According to a damning new report from ProPublica and the Houston Chronicle, dozens of priests who were credibly accused of sexual abuse found new homes in foreign countries where it would be much harder for local authorities to find them. The Catholic Church facilitated or looked the other way in many of those cases.
It’s just incredible work from journalists Katie Zavadski, Topher Sanders, and Nicole Hensley.
ProPublica and the Chronicle analyzed lists published by 52 U.S. dioceses — encompassing the top 30 in terms of the number of credibly accused living clergy and those located in states along the U.S.-Mexico border. Reporters found 51 clergy who after allegations of abuse in the U.S. were able to work as priests or religious brothers in a host of countries, from Ireland to Nigeria to the Philippines. At least 40 had worked in U.S. states along the southern border, including 11 in Texas. No country was a more common destination than Mexico, where at least 21 credibly accused clergy found refuge.
As recently as Wednesday, one of the priests in question told reporters that his time with a 15-year-old boy — a boy he allegedly got drunk before groping and raping him — was “screwed up, but whatever happened was consensual.”
The Church isn’t just putting these priests in other countries, where they have access to other children. They’re keeping them on the Church’s payroll. Which, you would think, contradicts the Church’s own statement about the priest in question, which is that he “fled” to Mexico. The truth is that they sent him there. (The Diocese of Sacramento says it has “revised” its list of predator priests to reflect that.)
Reporters also found discrepancies between the Church’s statements about how they had no idea where certain accused priests were these days… and those same priests showing up on the websites of other Catholic churches.
The omissions, inconsistencies and other shortcomings undercut the church’s professed desire to repair its relationship with millions of disaffected Catholics, said Anthony M. DeMarco, a California lawyer who has handled hundreds of child sex abuse cases. “Every bit of hedging that they do to protect a pedophile just undermines completely any level of trust they’re trying to build,” he said.
It was bad enough when the Church sent predator priests to different parishes within the U.S. But it appears that, after that game was discovered, they continued to send priests to other countries. As if allowing priests to rape brown or black kids was more acceptable than taking responsibility for the people they employed.
The Church is a crime syndicate. If this were a business instead of a religious organization, it would’ve been forced to shut down a long time ago. But this is what you’re supporting if you’re a Catholic. This is what’s happening in the name of Catholicism all because too many people continue sending their kids to Catholic schools, or donating money to their local churches, or even just using the “Catholic” label like it’s worthy of pride. It’s a global disgrace.
We are fortunate that reporters and attorneys have been able to do what the Vatican hierarchy refuses to do: Reveal the depths of abuse committed by people who claimed to work on God’s behalf.
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