Vatican denies report of 400 priests defrocked

by John L. Allen Jr.

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In response to a story by The Associated Press asserting that Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests during 2011-2012 for the sexual abuse of minors, the Vatican released a statement Friday saying that the number in the AP story refers to the number of new cases opened during that span rather than the outcome of those cases.

The following is the full text of the statement from Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, in an NCR translation from Italian.

"Information diffused this evening by the Associated Press appears to be based on an incorrect reading of data published in the volume 'Activity of the Holy See 2011,' where there's a reference to the activity of the disciplinary office of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (p.466)."

"That volume speaks about the 612 new cases opened in 2012, which come from the entire world, including 418 cases involving abuse of minors."

"It's important to note that those cases ordinarily refer to events that took place in earlier years. Moreover, the data cited do not refer to the outcome of the discussion of the cases, and therefore it's not a matter of priests dismissed from the clerical state."

(Follow John Allen on Twitter: @JohnLAllenJr)

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