The Vatican defrocked 848 priests in the last 10 years, according to comprehensive statistics revealed for the first time about the institution's internal handling of the sex abuse scandal first reported earlier in the decade.
Additionally, lesser punishments were given during that time period to 2,572 clergy accused of raping and molesting children, according to information obtained and published Tuesday by The Associated Press. More than 3,400 cases of abuse were reported to the Holy See since 2004.
The depositions were handed down by current Pope Francis, as well as Pope Benedict XVI and Pope John Paul II. Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's U.N. ambassador in Geneva, disclosed the numbers on a second day of questioning by a committee monitoring implementation of a U.N. treaty against torture.
The scandal broke in 2001, and all credibly accused priests were sent to Rome for review. The public has criticized the church in the past for protecting priests from law enforcement and not commenting on the internal review process. It wasn't until 2010 when the Vatican ordered bishops to report credible cases to police officers, the AP reported. That year was also the last time the scandal erupted around the world.
Benedict, Francis's predecessor, defrocked nearly 400 priests in 2011 and 2012, msnbc previously reported. Paul removed 171 priests in 2008 and 2009 before Benedict's reign.
But the data reported this week is "incomplete," Tomasi told the AP.
Francis succeeded Benedict last March as the first Jesuit pontiff. He has since promised to change the ways the Vatican conducts business and demonstrated an unprecedented willingness to soften the Catholic Church's take on social issues. The pope broke with his predecessors in September when he said the church cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptives.