benedict 300x168 Pope Benedict Defrocked Four Hundred Child Abusing Priests Over Just Two Years

(Andreas Solaro / AFP / Getty Images)

I don’t think there’s much more to say about this story but “wow.” Over the course of 2011 and 2012, Pope Benedict defrocked four-hundred priests for sexually abusing kids. Defrocking is the most severe penalty that can be meted out by the church:

A document obtained by The Associated Press on Friday shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children. The statistics for 2011-12 show a dramatic increase over the 171 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only publicly revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received. [...] An AP review of the reference books shows a remarkable evolution in the Holy See’s in-house procedures to discipline pedophiles since 2001, when the Vatican ordered bishops to send cases of all credibly accused priests to Rome for review. Then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger took action after determining that bishops around the world weren’t following church law to put accused clerics on trial in church tribunals. Bishops routinely moved problem priests from parish to parish rather than subject them to canonical trials — or turn them into police. For centuries, the church has had its own in-house procedures to deal with priests who sexually abuse children. One of the chief accusations from victims is that bishops put the church’s own procedures ahead of civil law enforcement by often suggesting victims not go to police and keep accusations quiet while they are dealt with internally.

For centuries they’ve had these policies, because this has been an issue for centuries.

The maximum penalty for a priest convicted by a church tribunal is essentially losing his job: being defrocked, or removed from the clerical state. There are no jail terms and nothing to prevent an offender from raping again.

Again, just wow. Jeremy’s reaction is about right:

Dear Catholic church: Keep your hands off my rights, your faith out of my civil government, and your nose out of my bedroom. And keep your everything off of my kid!

And I would add, “clean up your own damn house.” I sincerely hope that Pope Francis chooses to use the favor he’s garnered around the world to make some serious changes to stop this from happening ever again. Time will tell.