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Pope Francis on Sunday was quoted by an Italian newspaper saying that about two percent — or 1 in 50 — of Roman Catholic priests are pedophiles, but the Vatican quickly released a statement saying the pontiff had been misquoted. Church officials also said that the journalist who did the story for La Repubblica had a history of having long conversations with public figures without taking notes or taping them, and then reconstructing them from memory.
The article was the result of an hour-long conversation between the pope and the newspaper's founder, Eugenio Scalfari, a 90-year-old atheist who has written about several past encounters with the pope.
"Many of my collaborators who fight with me (against pedophilia) reassure me with reliable statistics that say that the level of pedophilia in the Church is at about two percent," Francis was quoted as saying.
"This data should hearten me but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave," he was quoted as saying. Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said that not all the phrases could be attributed "with certainty" to the pope.
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