The Slatest

Report: Admitted, Accused Child-Abusing U.S. Priests Continue to Work in Latin America

The Basilica of St. Peter in Vatican City.

An upsetting report published Thursday by the Global Post documents the cases of several Catholic priests who have left areas where they’ve admitted to or been credibly accused of child sexual abuse only to continue their careers in South America:

Even as Pope Francis has touted reform of the Vatican’s safeguards against child abuse, GlobalPost has found that the Catholic Church has allowed allegedly abusive priests to slip off to parts of the world where they would face less scrutiny from prosecutors and the media.

In a yearlong investigation, we tracked down and confronted five such priests. All were able to continue working for the church despite serious accusations against them. When we found them, all but one continued to lead Mass, mostly in remote, poor communities in South America.

The current pope has said in a letter to bishops worldwide that the church should have a “zero tolerance” policy on sexual abuse, defrocking those who are established internally to have committed abusive acts. Such internal deliberations, however, are kept secret, and the Global Post writes that “neither the Vatican nor the chairman of a new papal commission set up specifically to tackle church child abuse” agreed to requests for interviews about its story. In any case, one of the priests covered in the piece admitted in 1994 to molesting a child in Mississippi—but still works and celebrates Mass in Peru.

The other priests in question were accused of abuse in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Texas and Belgium and now work, respectively, in Ecuador, Paraguay, Colombia, and Brazi.

Read the entire piece here.