Pope Francis says about 8,000 pedophiles are members of Catholic clergy, including bishops and cardinals
David Barrett and Nick Squires, The Telegraph
Pope Francis has said two per cent of the Roman Catholic clergy worldwide, the equivalent of 8,000 members, are pedophiles.
The figure was revealed as the Archbishop of Canterbury separately admitted he expects more sex scandals to emerge from within the Anglican Church.
The Pope described child sex abusers as a “leprosy” within the Catholic Church and said the offenders include “priests and even bishops and cardinals.”
In an interview with La Repubblica newspaper in Italy, the pontiff cited his aides as saying that “the level of pedophilia in the Church is at two per cent.”
As the Catholic clergy numbers 414,000, it would mean more than 8,000 priests fall into this category. Estimates of the prevalence of paedophilia in the wider population range from a fraction of one per cent to four per cent.
In an interview on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show Sunday, the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, said it was becoming clearer that pedophilia had not been properly addressed within Anglicanism and disclosed that he deals with the issue on a daily basis.
Asked if he was braced for the child abuse inquiry led by Baroness Butler-Sloss to uncover “bad stories,” the Archbishop replied: “I would love to say there weren’t, but I expect there are.
“There are in almost every institution in this land.”
The Pope also promised to find “solutions” to the issue of priestly celibacy. Asked whether priests might one day be allowed to marry, he said celibacy was instituted “900 years after Our Lord’s death” and clerics could marry in some Eastern churches under Vatican tutelage.
The Vatican later tried to backtrack on the interview.
Father Federico Lombardi, its main spokesman, said: “This is not at all an interview in the normal sense of the word.” But he declined to say in which parts of the interview the Pope had been misquoted or misrepresented.
The Pope’s comment about cardinals being involved “has attracted a lot of attention but cannot be attributed to the Pope,” the Rev Lombardi added.