Defrocking / Laicization

Reminder: Catholic priests and bishops can be defrocked or laicized.

See also this news item from 2014: Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests for child abuse -

171 priests were removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked.

Wondering…How many have been defrocked since the 2013 installation of Pope Francis?

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You are a priest forever after the order of Melchisedech


True, but this has nothing to do with the question in the OP. Laicization does not take away one’s priestly status, it merely takes way the formal recognition as a priest in the Church as well as the privilege of licitly celebrating the sacraments. A priest in such a state cannot validly confer any sacraments other than the Eucharist (which would be gravely illicit) and absolution, but the latter would only be permitted in danger of death.


Just so long as we are all on the same page on that. The OP didn’t say it and the links (which I only skimmed admittedly, so I may have missed something) didn’t say it.

As to the actual question, I have no idea. Sorry.

One can respond to a thread without an explicit question. However, the OP did include this question.

Why? What difference does the number make?
Or is it to try to “prove” that now we have a Pope who is not doing anything about the situation?

What were the reasons behind the numbers for Benedict? Where they “new” cases or where they men who had left the priesthood long before and we’re never formally laiacized?

What exactly is the purpose if your question?


I never forgot…

We had 2 in our Diocese who voluntarily asked for Laicization for different reasons (nothing related to any kind of abuse).

I might suggest the numbers under previous popes were dealing with the abuse situations in the last century. Since 2002, there have been stringent measures in place dealing with priestly abuse. I doubt there are the numbers of abusers left who haven’t been uncovered. IOW, I don’t think the problem of priestly abuse is as prevalent in the last 15 years or so, therefore the numbers would be much smaller.
I know of one priest who was a great friend and priest who was defrocked and excommunicated, but it was because he left the church for a protestant denomination as a “minister.” Noting to do with sexual abuse.

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We are supposed to be married for life.
What God has joined together, let no man put asunder. Right?
God is perfect.
Man is not.
Anything is possible with God.
But God’s Church is run by imperfect men.

Next Questions…

As I read recently, the bishops made themselves exempt from the rule changes circa 2002.

However, as I also read recently, a bishop (and theoretically, a cardinal) could also be defrocked (laicized).

Do you think it could happen / should happen (defrocking) for miscreants / abusers at those higher levels of church office and authority?

Yes, it should happen at all levels of the clergy. If an allegation of abuse is proved true, the abuser should be defrocked and laicized. And handed over to civil authorities for trial and punishment under civil law.

The only exception I think could be in play, is if a clergyman at any level engages in sexual activity with a woman of his acquaintance that is consensual. There I think the priest needs to be disciplined, but whether he should be defrocked for a sin, I don’t know. I sure wouldn’t want that level of judgment come down on me in confession. A sin is a sin, but consensual heterosexual activity is not a crime (in most places). A sin yes, an actionable offense by civil authorities, probably not.

Edited to say, a woman over 21 years of age.

wikipedia is hardly the last word or definitive expert on anything

i feel you are attempting to create discord with this thread

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Well, a local Priest just resigned and got the boot for having an affair with an adult female. So it’s over for him!

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One of the Friars on EWTN left the priesthood a few years back to get married. i don’t know his personal details, but they scrubbed his voice and image from everything – probably learned a lesson, too.

He may have filled out some forms to be released from his vows but we will never know how that happened. You would probably have to look at Canon Law to figure this out – it is probably very rare.

I don’t like the term defrocked.

That was four years ago and the number is only for those priests related to child abuse.

The number of priests who are laicised would most likely be much higher if we add in those who are laicised voluntarily or for other reasons.


I’ve never heard of this whole thing about a priest being aloud to just renounce his vows so he can get married. What’s the point of taking vows if you can just renounce them later? Priestley / Religious vows are for life (should be anyway).

@stoplooklisten , why are you wondering in particular how many have been defrocked during Pope Francis’ papacy ?

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I would hope that the point of this thread is not to draw some bad comparison between Pope Francis and previous Popes on the basis of how many priests have become laicized under Pope Francis.

In any event I don’t think anyone has the answer to your “how many” question. The Vatican to my knowledge has not reported the data under Pope Francis.

The number of priests laicized by Pope Benedict likely included a great many old past cases of child abuse. One would expect the number to decline now that we address abuse more quickly.

I would note that there are altenatives to laicization, such as a supervised life of prayer and penance that is offered to some abusers.

And there are laicizations for reasons other than abuse. I’ve read of priests laicized for non-sexual misconduct, and other priests who were laicized on their own request because they wanted to get married.


That is a Messianic passage. It isn’t addressing the clerical offices.

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