Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests in two years for molesting children, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

The statistics for 2011-12 show a big increase over the 170 priests removed in 2008 and 2009. That's when the Vatican first provided details on how many priests had been defrocked, the AP reported. Previously, the Vatican only revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.

According to the AP, the document was prepared from data the Vatican collected to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee.

A senior Vatican official acknowledged Thursday there is "no excuse" for child sex abuse, as he and others were grilled by a U.N. committee about the Catholic Church's handling of pedophile priests.

It was the first time the Vatican had been forced to answer allegations so publicly that it enabled the sexual abuse of children by protecting such priests.

The committee questioned a handful of Vatican officials -- including Monsignor Silvano Tomasi, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations in Geneva, and Monsignor Charles Scicluna, the Vatican's former chief sex-crimes prosecutor -- for several hours Thursday in Switzerland.