Speed Reads

His Holiness

Maybe Pope Francis didn't say two percent of clergy are pedophiles, Vatican suggests

Pope Francis said in an interview with the Italian newspaper La Republica that child abuse was afflicting the church like "leprosy" and that two percent of clergy — including bishops and cardinals — are pedophiles. That is, unless he didn't quite say that, according to the Vatican, which said in a statement the remarks were "not an exact transcription of a recording nor a review of such a transcript by the Pope himself to whom the words are attributed."

"We should not or must not therefore speak in any way, shape or form of an interview in the normal use of the word, as if there had been a series of questions and answers that faithfully and exactly reflect the precise thoughts of the one being interviewed," the statement went on.

In other words, "Sorry, but that Pope didn't say that." Except the statement then added that, sure, "the overall theme of the article captures the spirit of the conversation."

As the BBC put it, "there is often a studied ambiguity in Pope Francis' off-the-cuff statements," remarks which "can sometimes cause consternation among his media advisers."

So to recap: The Pope maybe said two percent of clergy are pedophiles, but don't quote him on that, although he could have said as much in other words.