Benedict XVI “defrocked” 384 clerics in 2 years. Liberal praise to follow…. maybe?

According to AP, and this was also clarified by the papal spokesman Fr. Lombardi, Pope Benedict XVI “defrocked” almost 400 priests for the crime of sexual abuse of children – in a little more than 2 years.

We are talking here about the formal dismissal of clerics from the clerical state, sometimes quickly, through inaccurately, called “defrocking”.

Nearly 400 from 2011-2012!

John Allen (now leaving NSR) says:

Based on information provided in the published volume “Activity of the Holy See,” according to Scicluna, there were 135 priests in 2011 who voluntarily requested dismissal from the clerical state and 125 for whom laicization was imposed as a penalty.

For 2012, the numbers were 67 voluntary dismissals and 57 cases in which laicization was imposed.

In total, that comes to 384 clergy over the two year period who were removed from the priesthood in cases related to the sexual abuse of minors.

What we will now wait to see in the MSM and in the liberal catholic press is the praise of Benedict XVI for his aggressive and exemplary work to protect children.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. mr_anthony says:

    They’ll find a way to turn it into a criticism of Benedict. I’ve seen on Facebook already how people have twisted it to show that it’s “too little, too late,” and proof that he was “covering it up.”

    The headline of this story should be “Documents Reveal that Pope Benedict XVI Did His Job.”

    When his papacy started, BXVI said the Church needed to purged of filth. Finding out he laicized a lot of priests over a short time period would indicate just that.

  2. Imrahil says:

    Hm… I do not mean that he has done too little. He did his job.

    Also, I do not mean to include into what follows the areas where even such a heinous crime as child abuse is has fringes, worthy of punishment but with making distinctions (such as breaking the celibacy in entire consent with a physically adult girl under the age limit).

    However, I do wonder how many priests who committed child abuse in that restricted sense (i.e. what the common voice calls a molester) are still not defrocked.

    Yes, and while I go beyond what canon law says here (can. 1395 § 2), I do opine (it’s only an opinion after all) that each single of them should be defrocked. And penally defrocked, not made to request dismissal.

  3. Bosco says:

    Benedict XVI? Benedict XVI?

    USA Today has a photo of Pope Francis in their ‘defrocking’ article (see link below). Poor beloved Pope Benedict. Doesn’t even get credit where credit is due.

  4. pannw says:

    I have to agree with mr_anthony. I saw a report on a MSM site about it and they implied that the upswing in numbers occurred after and because the media had broken so many new stories, as though he only did it for PR purposes because he had to: “While it’s not clear why the numbers spiked in 2011, it could be because 2010 saw a new explosion in the number of cases reported in the media in Europe and beyond.” ~AP reporters

    Beloved Benedict will never get credit from the leftists. So be it. “Blessed are you when they revile you…”

  5. Robbie says:

    Once again, we owe an immense debt of gratitude to Pope Benedict, but his actions stand in stark contrast to recent events in Rome. Just yesterday, the Vatican faced extremely tough questioning from a UN panel on its handling of the child abuse scandal. And how did Pope Francis spend the day? Celebrating Mass and meeting with the disgraced Cardinal Roger Mahoney, of course. Yes, that Cardinal Mahoney who hid abusive priest from the authorities in the 1980’s. What a terrible juxtaposition.

    Sadly, I’m not in a charitable mood when it comes to this topic because I have a relative who was abused by a priest. Regardless of my personal connections, what message does this terrible public spectacle send to Catholics around the world, especially in light of other recent events? In all honesty, it’s not difficult to come to the conclusion that if one is a liberal and a modernist like Mahoney, all can be forgotten. But if a priestly order prefers the TLM or more traditional theology, the Vatican will come down on them like a sledgehammer.

  6. philstudent13 says:

    Having not heard of this story, I was checking this blog on my phone, and the title on the mobile version of the site, which does not always show the full title on the main page, only read “Benedict XVI “defrocked”…”. Took me a second to realize ‘there’s no way that actually means what it seems like it does’, but it was definitely a scary second.

  7. wmeyer says:

    Liberal praise? When hell freezes over, perhaps. Notice that they still criticize us on this score, even while they champion the causes of same sex unions, explicit sex education of kindergartners and pedophilia.

  8. wmeyer says:

    …oh, and I forgot: they have yet to observe that the Catholic Church is the only large organization where kids could be at risk which has cleaned its house.

  9. Netmilsmom says:

    They can’t even acknowledge this. I bet it will be spun and disappear quickly.
    This scandal hides the problems with molestations in Public Schools/

  10. Nicholas Shaler says:


    I thought the same thing as you, though I was less scared than confused utterly.


  11. markomalley says:

    Liberal praise to follow?
    When halal pigs fly.

  12. Netmilsmom says:

    Mark, how have you been?
    I nominate yours for “Post of the Day”

  13. I’ll agree with wmeyer: Hell will freeze over before the Lamestream Media admits ANYTHING good about the Church.

    The sound of *crickets* on a hot summer night are resonating in my ears right now…

  14. Mimi says:

    Will someone explain why these ‘defrocked’ clergy aren’t reported to the police? Isn’t the church a mandated reporter? Aren’t these pedophiles otherwise free to abuse others in the secular world once they leave the church?

  15. Bosco says:

    Dear Father Z.,

    Just wondering why ‘Bosco’s’ comments “await moderation” for hours and hours after posting. Is there something inherently subversive in them or might there be another reason? Just curious. If I ought ‘buzz off’ do please let me know. I’ll contribute elsewhere if you would like. Peace.

  16. Mojoron says:

    The statistic that I’m concerned about is the cleric’s that voluntarily left the priesthood. What is going on there?

  17. Uxixu says:

    I that to mean those that didn’t resist and face a trial in canon law. Something like the equivalent of a nolo contendre plea in criminal courts?

  18. Absit invidia says:

    Why Pope Benedict, why did you leave us?

  19. Gratias says:

    It is a blessing that Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI the Great is still with us inside the Vatican. He is a powerful intellectual who has left us all his teachings in the form of books that will serve our Church for centuries. Some recommendations are the CCC, The Spirit of the Liturgy, In the Beginning, the five books on the public Wednesday Audiences, and the Jesus of Nazareth trilogy. I would imagine he is still writing today and we will have his thoughts posthumously.

    One unrelated thought. I am currently reading a page-turning novel by Fr. Malachi Martin called Windswept House. The story is about a Freemason plot to force to force the resignation of a Pope to make way for One World Government. The novel was published in 1996. Was that prescient thinking or what? Malachi Martin is very enjoyable reading, e.g., Vatican or The Jesuits. Available at Amazon.

  20. crjs1 says:

    Were the details of these priests and thier offences passed to the police? Or are they free to abuse other children now they have left the priesthood??

  21. terryprest says:

    Father, you forgot the health warning in the title:

    “Don`t hold your breath.”

  22. Gregorius says:

    More likely the secular world will simply look at that number and complain that there were that many abusers to begin with, and continue to fuel their bogus narrative that the Church/priestly celibacy is particularly dangerous to children.

  23. John Fannon says:

    As the Lefties are still in denial about the role of Pope Pius XII in WWII in spite of support and praise for him by illustrious historians such as Professor Sir Martin Glibert ( who is Jewish himself), I can’t believe that the lefties will drop the bone that they are currently worrying, no matter what.

    Hell will have to freeze over before the BBC admits its complicity in the depredations carried out by Saville and other pop celebs whom they lionised. Has the BBC paid any compensation to the children , now adults who were abused?

  24. JohnnyZoom says:

    The journalistic coverage (or lack thereof) is playing out pretty much as Fr Z and others here have anticipated. I will add that from looking at my Twitter feed since last night, there are two types of responses: reasonable ones from e.g. NCReg, Patheos, EWTN types, and replies to same in the vein of “How many of these did pope turn in to the police? Huh? Huh?”.

    When you mix varying degrees of bigotry, snark, and ignorance, the result is pathetically predictable.

  25. ClavesCoelorum says:

    God bless Pope Emeritus Benedict. What a beautiful and inspiring photograph!

  26. Mimi says:

    Still waiting for an answer as to why these men weren’t arrested….

  27. RuariJM says:

    Mimi – “Still waiting for an answer as to why these men weren’t arrested….”

    Why don’t you ask the criminal jurisdictions in which they live – whether the USA, Canada, Ireland, UK, Germany or wherever – why they weren’t arrested. If indeed they haven’t been. You are aware that the only place on God’s Earth where the Vatican has jurisdiction over criminal procedures and prosecutions is… the Vatican? It has no secular, criminal or civil authority anywhere else.

    Go ask your local police force.

  28. HighMass says:

    In the spirit of Christian kindness…how can we say what fools the liberals are????

    Benedict XVI is nobodies fool….but because he did this quietly…..and it wasn’t on the front page of the LIBERAL SPECIAL… doesn’t receive the recognition it deserves…..

    More important though is ….GOD knows….Personally will not live to see it, but Benedict XVI will be raised to the Altar’s of Sainthood someday…..

    Pope Benedict we Love you and Miss You…..You are the laborer in the Vineyard of the Lord.

  29. RuariJM says:

    Robbie said – “Just yesterday, the Vatican faced extremely tough questioning from a UN panel on its handling of the child abuse scandal.”

    I can tell you have been paying close attention. Could you tell me please what the Prime Ministers/Presidents/Chancellors of Germany, Congo and Yemen were doing these past few days?

    Why do I ask, you may wonder? Simple – I ask because they were the three countries whose representatives preceded the Vatican’s in testifying to the the Committee about their progress in child protection.

    I would have liked to hear how Germany has been getting on in controlling sex trafficking of girls from the Balkans and Turkey, within its borders. Or how many of its peacekeepers, assigned to UN forces implicated in sex trafficking in the Balkans, have been indicted. And how things are going with the investigation into connections with the abuse network that involved Dutroux, that Belgian monster.

    Actually, come to think of it – when is this UN Committee going to investigate the UN for the outrages that have been committed by people acting under its banner? There isn’t a shortage – sex trafficking in the Balkans; sexual abuse and rape in Sudan; etc, etc. Could you take the time to drop them an outraged note, Robbie? Or are you busy chasing one target, to the exclusion of all others?

    The progress of the Yemen’s programs for the protection of young girls from forced marriages to old men, and liberation from chattel status as well as freedom from rape by armed forces and the consequences of the ongoing civil war would be worth hearing about – I trust you were listening closely? If you had been you might have been disappointed. Why? Because there are no such programs. Not so’s you’d notice, anyway.

    Similar hopes apply to the Congo. Pygmy girls are particularly valued in the sex trade there, I understand – has the President been able to spare any time to stamp the trade out? We didn’t hear from him? Why? Because he wasn’t there. Are you outraged, Robbie?

    This UN Committee hearing was not the International Criminal Court and was not a criminal investigation, no matter how it has been portrayed in some sections of the media. It was actually a routine reporting session – or should have been, but there are some bureaucrats and campaigners who cannot pass up an opportunity for grandstanding, no matter how flimsy.

    The Vatican’s testimony should have taken up very little time indeed. Why? Because the only reports this particular committee should have been taking – and has the power to take – are limited to the territory that the Vatican has jurisdiction over. That territory is the Vatican. I am not aware of widespread sexual abuse of children taking place within that state’s borders. Which may have something to do with its very low birthrate. what do you think?

    Would you hold the USA responsible for the criminal behaviour of people in Australia who happened to believe in neo-liberal economics? It makes as much sense as holding the Vatican responsible for the criminal acts of American citizens. Maybe the family of Baden-Powell should be held responsible for the monstrous abuses in the Boy Scouts Association of America – thousands of perpetrators, and counting.

    You said “Sadly, I’m not in a charitable mood when it comes to this topic because I have a relative who was abused by a priest.”

    Yeh, well, I’ll see your relative’s abuse and raise you my own personal experience. Nothing third-party about me.

    This is not to deny that clerics of the Catholic Church engaged in despicable and criminal activity; they did. Far too many of them. Another diocese in California is filing for bankruptcy because of the financial liabilities it has accepted or had applied to it. Have the Boy Scouts of America done as much? The ultra-orthodox Jewish Communities in New York? The proud Protestant churches in the South? How about the schools across the country that have given jobs to teachers who turned out to be abusers? Are you as outraged about them?

    I have the most enormous respect, affection and admiration for Pope Benedict. He did more than all his predecessors in the 20th Century COMBINED to confront and deal with ‘this filth’, as he called it. If in doubt, ask the bishops whose ‘resignations’ he accepted – there were quite a few.

    He took the dark network on in the face of opposition, whether based on longstanding traditions of bishops’ autonomy, or other, less palatable, agendas. Ask Marcial Maciel’s followers, colleagues and ‘network’: it was widespread, pernicious and powerful Pope Benedict took them on, with huge courage. In the end, it probably cost him his health.

    Do not ever, ever insult or denigrate Papa Ben when I’m about. He was, and remains, a brave, committed, pious and holy man, who strove with all his might, as head of the CDF and as Pope, to drive out ‘this filth’. He was a great Pope and not one of his critics is fit to lace his boots.

  30. AnimatedCatholic says:

    so what happens to the abusive priests now? I was told by a fr. Tim that defrocking is the same as getting arrested and thrown in jail. I just want clarification. I am not trying to be smart.

  31. BobP says:

    I’m beginning to think that old joke about Cardinal Ratzinger may become true after all.
    Ratzinger Joke
    Karl Rahner, Hans Kung and Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger all die on the same day, and go to meet St. Peter to know their fate.

    St. Peter approaches the three of them, and tells them that he will interview each of them to discuss their views on various issues.

    He then points at Rahner and says “Karl! In my office…” After 4 hours, the door opens, and Rahner comes stumbling out of St. Peter’s office. He is highly distraught, and is mumbling things like “Oh God, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! How could I have been so wrong! So sorry…never knew…” He stumbles off into Heaven, a testament to the mercy of Our God.

    St. Peter follows him out, and sticks his finger in Kung’s direction and “Hans! You’re next…” After 8 hours, the door opens, and Kung comes out, barely able to stand. He is near collapse with weakness and a crushed spirit. He , too, is mumbling things like “Oh God, that was the hardest thing I’ve ever done! How could I have been so wrong! So sorry…never knew…” He stumbles off into Heaven, a testament to the mercy of Our God.

    Lastly, St. Peter, emerging from his office, says to Cardinal Ratzinger, “Joseph, your turn.” TWELVE HOURS LATER, St. Peter stumbles out the door, apparently exhausted, saying “Oh God, that’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done…”

    Pope Benedict XVI. Never gone. Never forgotten.

  32. Kathleen10 says:

    I wish we had known about this while it was going on. The emotional toll of thinking our beloved church was doing little to address this issue has not been insignificant. Most assuredly it has caused pain and scandal to many. To know perpetrators were being weeded out would have been heartening. I’m sure someone will mention a very valid reason why we might not have been informed but I can’t imagine it.

  33. pannw says:

    RuariJM says:
    (Quite a lot…)
    pannw says:
    Bravo!! Thank you for that wonderful defense of our beloved Benedict, the truth and the Church. Bravo, Bravo!

    That said, in Robbie’s defense, I don’t think he was insulting beloved Benedict, but rather the current Holy Father and the optics of his meeting with Cardinal Mahoney while the UN was cross examining the Church,, etc. He said we owe a debt of gratitude to beloved Benedict, which is so very true.

    Of all the people in the world I hope to meet in Heaven, by the mercy of Our Lord, beloved Benedict is way up there, probably at the very top, and I hope to find that his reward will be truly great. Who has been more reviled and had more evil spoken of them when he is so kind and humble? I can’t think of anyone, and I find myself getting angry with his critics, too, but then I thank them. They must be adding to his eternal reward.

    Deo Gratias!

    @Bob P

    God, bless beloved Benedict, and keep him.

  34. RuariJM says:

    Take your point, pannw, but I must confess to a bit of red mist! We see more than enough unfounded and prejudiced accusations from the media without having to put up with it from insiders!

    That said, I will take it all back and offer grovelling apologies if and when President Obama leads the USA delegation to this committee, or David Cameron takes time out from his busy schedule to head up Britain’s. That will show up Pope Francis, if they do!

    Meanwhile, the UK’s Independent newspaper accuses the Vatican of failing to be ‘transparent’ and the BBC is reporting as if it’s the Nuremberg Tribunals. Meanwhile, the interim report from Dame Janet Smith will reveal that Jimmy Savile abused over 1000 people on BBC premises, with the active collusion or supine acquiescence of senior managers at the Corporation, according to allegations in the Observer…

  35. Katylamb says:

    Pannw: You say, “That said, in Robbie’s defense, I don’t think he was insulting beloved Benedict, but rather the current Holy Father and the optics of his meeting with Cardinal Mahoney while the UN was cross examining the Church,, etc.”

    Oh, only insulting Pope Francis? Well that’s okay then. Huh?

  36. Nan says:

    @Mimi, I didn’t read the article, just the statement that men were dismissed from the clerical state either as punishment or by request. You might want to do some research as Fr’s post only shares the numbers dismissed broken down into two categories and no information on whether any laicizations related to criminal prosecutions or admissions of guilt.

    In order to prosecute criminally, a) a complaint must be made within a certain amount of time, usually a couple of years anyway; b) the report must be investigated; c) there must be evidence of wrongdoing, and d) the alleged perpetrator must be found guilty.

    That’s a different standard than to be removed from active ministry which is a standard set by the church and may be related to “credible allegations” only, which seems to mean that it’s a plausible allegation, and has no bearing on criminal complaints, prosecutions or actual findings of guilt.

    Another complication is that frequently allegations of misconduct are made only decades later so it’s possible that some of the laicizations are a result of allegations that took place long ago.

  37. DavidR says:


    Bravo, sir, bravo.

  38. frjim4321 says:

    The news about the “defrocking” came as no surprise to me except I would have expected larger numbers in view of the extent of the problem. I thought it was commonly held that the B16 administration was indeed addressing the sexual abuse crisis more effectively than the JP2 administration. Certainly under B16 the Maciel blind spot was corrected.

    I suspect “liberals” would have more to say about the manifest failures under JP2 (and the consequential inappropriateness of the upcoming canonization) than they would about failures under B16.

    That being said dioceses languished for many years while most of the cases were left hanging, and still we have priests in limbo. I don’t think it’s any cause for rejoicing that some of the cases were resolved under B16; a more interesting statistic would be how many cases are still open?

  39. Palladio says:

    And another question would be the number of groundless and vindictive cases against innocent priests.

  40. frjim4321 says:

    “And another question would be the number of groundless and vindictive cases against innocent priests.” – Palladio

    I haven’t seen it but I hear in some places a “scorched earth” policy was followed.

  41. Palladio says:

    Shoot first, sort out the targets later. I have little doubt of it, Fr.

  42. Nicholas Shaler says:

    Father Jim,

    Good point about the other statistic, though JP2 should still be canonised despite one scandal, no matter how large.


  43. Maria says:

    Dear Palladio says:
    19 January 2014 at 9:47 am

    “And another question would be the number of groundless and vindictive cases against innocent priests.” — example like him …

    God’s blessings of peace and joy!

  44. RJHighland says:

    Does anyone think these kind of statistics are why Pope Benedict XVI was forced to “resign” because he was cleaning out the underlings of the Lavander Mafia and the higher ups in the Curia figured they maybe next. Depending on the day and the audience the current holder of the See of Peter doesn’t seem to think there is a problem. Hey everbody consentrate on taking care of the poor, lets not worry about what’s going on here at the Vatican. Ya know when cardinals are openly hitting on the Swiss guard the wolves may be running the sheepfold. I think it would be great to have one of these guys file a sexual harrasment suit against one of these Cardinals. How would the press handle that one? I’m telling you if Rome doesn’t get it’s act together it is going to look like the temple in Jerusalem. They already have had serious earthquakes in the area. I wonder if the high altar in St. Peter’s split in two if it would catch anyones attention? If it should happen I figure we have about 40 yrs. from that point then game over.

  45. frjim4321 says:

    “Good point about the other statistic, though JP2 should still be canonized despite one scandal, no matter how large.” – Nick

    That is certainly an opinion to which you are entitled. My own opinion is that the “canonization” will set back any healing from the crisis another few generations.

    Back to the central point of this string, any benefit accruing to the prior papacy on the basis of 384 “defrockings” would be more than eclipsed by the unwise canonization decision.

  46. robtbrown says:


    IMHO, it would have been better to slow down JPII’s canonization rather than expedite it. Although I think he was let down by diocesan bishops and those around him, these things were happening under his watch.

  47. CrimsonCatholic says:

    @RJHighland, No, the Pope Emeritus was not forced to resign. I have no idea about what else you are talking about without some kind of source. Enough of that nonsense already, ” And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” – MT 16:18

  48. StWinefride says:

    CrimsonCatholic: @RJHighland, No, the Pope Emeritus was not forced to resign.

    The jury’s still out on that. And if he was forced to resign, it would not mean that the gates of hell have prevailed. The 2000+ year old history of the Catholic Church has seen all manner of machinations and intrigue…She’ll survive:

  49. RJHighland says:

    Crimson Catholic,
    Have you seen pictures of Pope Benedict XVI, he seems to be doing alot better than he was when he resigned. Pope John Paul II and every other Pope except one remained in office until natural death. I was likening the state of the Catholic Faith and it’s leadership to that of the Sadeccees and Pharasees at the time God became man to correct the course of his chosen people. He came to teach the Gospil to the Chosen People. Those that denied Christ and continued to pester the Romans until the Romans leveled the Temple approximately 40 years after Jesus started his ministry. 40 does that number sound familar, ring any bells? (Hint: It represents a fullfilment or completion, and end). (Also note: It was just over 40 yrs between the end of Vatican II and Pope Benedict XVI’s Summorum Pontificum on the Traditional Latin Mass.) Then several centuries later He allowed the enemy of the remnant of the Chosen People and His Church to build a mosque on the rock where the high altar use to be. His Children denied his Son and were disobedient. We have not denied his Son just have been disobedient to His teachings. Many modern Catholic Churches have turned the Sacrafice of the mass into a simple supper. We have Cardinals wining and dining with the enemies of the Church. We have a Pope who says “who am I to judge” when our Lord told Peter “what ever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven” (Matthew 16) if that’s not judging I don’t know what is and Pope Francis is our Peter. I am very familiar with Matthew 16 thank you though. That is one of the passages that brought me into the Church from the Baptist Church. It is not like a Pope has not ever been forced out of Rome before, see Avinon Papacies also a time of great confusion and crisis in the Church, or we have had bad popes before, see same time period. Not even to mention the fact on the night of his resignation lighting struck the dome of St. Peter’s. I wonder how that will be looked at in 50 yrs., was it a sign? I wonder if that is the real reason why the new Pope is staying in a boarding house rather than the Papel Estate? We are getting ready to canonize a Pope who over saw the Church at a time of the greatest and most grotesque scandals by the clergy and heirarchy in Church history, you don’t see a problem with that? How many Dioceses have filed bankruptsy because of these scandals now? Do you not think this upsets God that so many of His shepherds are wolves? Mainly what I am saying it is hard to find the shepherd for the wolves. I know the Catholic Church is the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church and I will never leave Her no matter how dreadful it’s leadership is because it holds the sole means to salvation and the truth. You just have to dig through 50 yrs. of garbage to get to it. The praise and elevation of the secular world for Pope Francis will fade and the true growth in the Church will continue to be with those that have dug into the traditional teachings and practices of the Church and the Church will be here to greet Our Lord on His return.

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