More than 50 priests in England and Wales have been defrocked for clerical sex abuse since 2001, new figures show.
There have been 55 laicisations since 2001 – meaning they have been evicted from the clergy – after new rules were put in place to protect children and vulnerable adults in the Catholic Church.
But the Church, which has been rocked by a series of historic abuse scandals, received many more complaints of sexual misconduct against the clergy.
And officials said there were a number of cases involving child abuse images where the victims could not be identified, meaning the number of overall victims may be much higher.
There was an increase in the number of perpetrators subject to “covenants of care”, essentially withdrawing them from ministering and severely restricting what they could do in the Church, from 384 at the end of 2013 to 462 at the end of 2014.
There were 79 allegations of abuse against children during the last year. These allegations involved 97 different forms of abuse against 118 victims, abused by 83 suspects.
The allegations included 16 against priests for offences such as sexual abuse and child abuse images.
In May, the Methodist Church in Britain apologised for failing to protect children and adults following nearly 2,000 reports of physical and sexual abuse within the institution dating back to the 1950s.
Publishing a 100-page report two months ago, the Church said it wanted to be open about the past and to have stronger safeguarding procedures in the future.