News: One in 50 Catholic priests are paedophiles, Pope Francis says.

Pope Francis.

Pope Francis has been quoted as saying one in every 50 Catholic priests is a paedophile.

The pontiff reportedly said in an interview with an Italian newspaper La Repubblica  that advisors had told him ‘paedophilia inside the church is at the level of two per cent.’

The Pope reportedly also told the newspaper that abuse of children was like ‘leprosy’ infecting the Church — and added that the ‘corruption of a child is the terrible and unclean thing imaginable’, the Daily Mail reports.

He also reportedly said: ‘The church is fighting for the eradication of the habit and for education that rehabilitates. But this leprosy is also present in our house.’

The Pope also reportedly vowed to “confront it with the severity it demands”.

The interview formed part of a series with founder of the La Repubblica and renowned athiest Eugenio Scalfari, reports.

But a Vatican spokesman said the quotes in the newspaper did not reflect the pontiff’s exact words, the BBC reports.

The BBC’s David Willey adds that there is often a ‘studied ambiguity’ in Pope Francis’ statements. While the Pope wants to show a more compassionate attitude towards Church teaching than his predecessors, this can sometimes cause consternation among his media advisers, Willey says.