Pope Francis has been quoted as saying that reliable data indicates that "about 2%" of clergy in the Catholic Church are paedophiles.Pope Francis said that abuse of children was like “leprosy” inflicting the church and that the estimation - which would represent around 8,000 priests out of global number of about 414,000 - came from advisers.
He vowed to "confront it with the severity it demands".
But a Vatican spokesman said the quotes in the newspaper did not correspond to Pope Francis's exact words.
The BBC's David Willey in Rome says there is often a studied ambiguity in Pope Francis' off-the-cuff statements.
He wants to show a more compassionate attitude towards Church teaching than his predecessors, but this can sometimes cause consternation among his media advisers, our correspondent adds.