Pope Francis has been quoted as saying that “about 2 percent” of the Catholic clergy are pedophiles.

"The 2 percent of pedophiles are priests, and even bishops and cardinals," the Pope allegedly told the Italian La Repubblica newspaper in an interview. "And others, even more numerous, know about it but keep quiet, they punish without saying the reason why. I find this state of things untenable and it is my intention to confront it with the severity it requires."

Francis referred to child abuse within the Church as a kind of “leprosy” infecting the clergy, BBC News reported.

He said the 2 percent estimate was given to him by his advisers. That number would mean about 8,000 priests globally are child predators.

"I find this state of affairs intolerable," he said.

He vowed to "confront it with the severity it demands.”

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi denied the newspaper’s report that the Pope said there were pedophilic cardinals. He says the newspaper did not quote the Pope’s exact words.

Sources: BBC News, CBS News

Image Credit: Tânia Rêgo/ABr