As news in the U.S. is saturated with stories about Pope Francis visiting Philadelphia, the Vatican continues to ignore and excuse the rampant culture of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church.
It was reported recently that instead of firing priests accused of sexual assault, the Vatican has simply been moving them to poorer countries — where the abuse is less likely to get media attention. A recent Global Post investigation uncovered the cases of five priests in particular who were accused of sexually assaulting children in the United States and Europe. Many of the priests who stand accused actually have significant evidence against them, including video evidence they sexually abused children. In some cases, the charges were dropped after large settlements were offered out of court.
These priests were not fired, but instead quietly moved to areas of South America. The priests were reportedly relocated to Paraguay, Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, and Peru. Obviously, when they were moved to these foreign countries, they were not only able to continue their work, but to leave their past and their reputation behind — allowing them to prey on new victims.
David Clohessy, spokesman for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), told the Global Post this is a widespread tactic the church uses to cover up abuse that takes place under its watch.
“As developed countries find it tougher to keep predator priests on the job, bishops are increasingly moving them to the developing world where there’s less vigorous law enforcement, less independent media and a greater power differential between priests and parishioners. This is massive, and my suspicion is that it’s becoming more and more pronounced,”Clohessy said.
Reporters from the Post actually went to South America to speak with the parishioners that now deal with some of these priests — and none of them were aware of their criminal pasts.
Peter Saunders, another advocate for abuse survivors, pointed out that many of these priests are likely to continue their abuse once they are sent to these new countries.
“Zero tolerance is meaningless unless it applies to the whole institution. Arguably, some of the biggest problems are in the less well-off parts of the world, South America, Africa, the Far East. This is where we know many priests flee to in order to carry on their abuse, which is an absolute outrage,” Saunders said.
Now that the new pope is more media-friendly and says things people like to hear, the crimes of the Vatican have taken a backseat to the fairly regular headline-grabbing comments made by the pope. However, the crimes go unpunished and the criminals continue to abuse defenseless children all over the world.