The Truth, Justice and Healing Council says that, historically, four per cent of priests in Australia have been paedophiles, double the number which, according to an Italian report, the Pope believes to be in the Church, says ABC.
Pope Francis has reportedly described paedophile priests as a leprosy infecting the Church, saying the problem will be met with severity. 'It's a no-nonsense, a zero-tolerance attitude,' Francis Sullivan the head of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council, said of the Pontiff's approach.
'He is probably ruffling feathers within the Vatican and good on him.'
The Italian newspaper La Repubblica reported Pope Francis as having said in an interview that 2 per cent of clergy, including bishops and cardinals, were paedophiles. That would equate to 8,000 of the 400,000 Catholic clergy worldwide.
In Australia, the Truth, Justice and Healing Council is compiling statistics on abusers for the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.
'It's 4 per cent of men who have been a priest in the Catholic Church at some point in Australia have been sex abusers,' Mr Sullivan said.
He emphasises the statistics are historical and do not include serving priests.