VATICAN CITY – In a far-ranging interview published in Italy’s La Repubblica this week, Pope Francis spoke on the sexual abuse scandals that have plagued the Catholic Church, condemning child sex abuse as “leprosy” and stating “the level of pedophilia in the Church is at two percent. What the clergy do outside of church, of course is between them and God. And the child they are abusing.”
“Among the 2% who are paedophiles are priests, bishops and cardinals,” said the Pope according to the article. “But not Popes. Definitely not Popes.”
His Holiness acknowledged that the problem goes beyond those priests who sexually abuse children. “Others, more numerous, know but keep quiet. They punish without giving the reason,” he said. “And of course there are an unknown number of others who have the good sense not to do anything inappropriate on Holy ground.
“We plan to look into those allegations in the future,” he added.
The Pope claimed that his 2% figure came from his advisors, as only 2 of his 96 closest advisors admitted to His Holiness of committing child sexual abuse within an actual church. “The actual number is closer to 2.08%,” he clarified. “But I chose to use the simpler 2% number so as not to deal with the hassle of decimal points and fractions.”
Asked what percentage of Catholic priests had committed pedophelia outside of a church, Pope Francis threw up his hands. “God has not chosen to grant me that data point,” he said. However, the Pope promised to “confront [clergy pedophelia] with the severity it demands.”
The BBC reported that if Pope Francis’s mathematics are correct, it would mean that approximately 8,000 of the Catholic Church’s 414,000 clergy members have sexually abused children. Not ong after publication of the article, official Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a strongly worded statement calling the paper’s account of the conversation into question. “What the article did not relate was His Holiness’s assurance that the vast majority of those 8,000 have been transferred to Africa, so Europeans and Americans both North and South need not be as alarmed.”
Asked what can be done to stem the tide of pedophelia in the Catholic Church, Pope Francis promised the Vatican was doing everything in it’s power. ”We are looking back through the church’s teachings to see what changes, if any, we need to make with regards to properly instructing our priests before sending them out into the world,” said His Holiness. “One suggestion has been to de-emphasize Jesus’ habit of ‘laying hands’ on everyone he meets. Some feel the message of that particular lesson may be too open to misinterpretation.”