The Catholic priest sexual abuse stories had kind of disappeared since Pope Benedict XVI stepped down and Pope Francis was elected. Francis has cut a liberal path that has made him a bit of a media darling. (Guilty.) But there is discouraging news to be had.
Bishop Charles Scicluna, formerly the Vatican's top prosecutor of sexually abusive clergy, said 384 priests left the priesthood – either voluntarily or not - in 2011 and 2012, the last two years of Pope Benedict XVI's papacy.
In 2011, 125 priests were dismissed from ministry by the Vatican because of accusations they had sexually abused children, Scicluna told CNN on Friday, citing the "Activity of the Holy See," a kind of Vatican yearbook. The same year, 135 priests were "dispensed," meaning they voluntarily resigned, Scicluna said.
In 2012, 57 priests were removed from the priesthood and 67 resigned, Scicluna said. Scicluna, who is now an auxiliary bishop in Malta, was the Vatican's top prosecutor of sexually abusive clergy for a decade.
Unclear from reports I've seen is when (a) allegations against these priests were made and (b) when the alleged abuse occurred. The AP article notes that the spike in defrocked priests occurred a year after the Vatican double the statute of limitations (canonical law, I assume), encouraging earlier victims to come forward. That suggests the allegations were recent and some of the abuse was quite old.
But it also seems quite possible that some of the complaints against the now-defrocked priests had been kicking around for years and were finally resolved in 2011 and 2012.