At Least 1 in 120 Priests Worldwide Were Punished for Child Sex Abuse in the Last Decade

By Ben Mathis-Lilley (Slate)
May 7, 2014

In response to a United Nations inquiry, the Vatican has released data on the number of priests it punished for child sexual abuse cases in the last decade. From the AP:

The Vatican revealed Tuesday that over the past decade, it has defrocked 848 priests who raped or molested children and sanctioned another 2,572 with lesser penalties, providing the first ever breakdown of how it handled the more than 3,400 cases of abuse reported to the Holy See since 2004.

There are around 410,000 priests worldwide, which means about 0.83 percent, or 1 in 120, priests were officially punished by the Vatican over that period. (The AP notes that this covers only punishments handed down by the Vatican, as opposed to “local diocesan tribunals,” which means that “the total number of sanctioned priests is likely far higher.”)

The church says that penalties short of defrocking are given to elderly or infirm priests who would otherwise be left destitute, and that they are kept away from contact with children.