Pope Benedict XVI defrocked child-molesting priests at a rate of more than one every two days in his last years of office, the Vatican has revealed.
In 2011 and 2012 the Pope defrocked almost 400 priests, more than double the number removed from the priesthood for paedophilic activities in 2008-9 when 171 were given their marching orders.
The figures were revealed in a document, shown to Associated Press, compiled from reports prepared by the Vatican before its appearance this week before a United Nations human rights committee in Geneva.
Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican's UN ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of often pointed criticism and questioning from the committee members.
The Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases, only began formally reporting numbers in 2005 amid increasing doubts worldwide that priests who molested children were being dealt with effectively enough by the religious authorities.
Pope Benedict stepped down from the position last year and was replaced by Pope Francis.