Catholic priests accused of sexually assaulting children in the United States and in Europe are finding sanctuary in poor parishes in South America, where many are still practicing and in daily contact with children, according to an investigation by Global Post, a U.S.-based news website.
“It was a shock to us, honestly,” senior correspondent Will Carless said to Fox News Latino.
“The guys we went after are really just the tip of the iceberg,” he said. “We know that there are scores of priests not just in South America but all over the world who’ve managed to escape culpability, who’ve managed to remain in the church simply by getting stamps on their passports.”
In the articles series, “Fugitive Fathers,” Carless traces three alleged pedophile priests - one a self-confessed one - who have fled to different South American countries and set new roots there.
The series includes a powerful 18-minute video documentary.
Carless first tracked down Father Francisco Montero, who is accused of abusing a 4-year-girl in Minneapolis, Minnesota and is now in his native Ecuador practicing in parishes.
He also interviewed Father Jan Van Diel, accused of molesting young boys in Belgium before moving to northeastern Brazil, where he operated an orphanage for years. He is currently under investigation for sexual abuse accusations at the orphanage, which has recently closed.
Finally, Carless spoke to Father Paul Madden, who admitted to molesting a 13-year-year old boy in Jackson, Mississippi. He signed a letter of confession, the family was paid $50,000 and he is now practicing in a remote parish outside of Lima, Peru.
The confrontations and video images of the accused pedophiles still practicing and surrounded by children are alarming, leaving viewers wondering just how and why this was this allowed – especially after U.S. bishops approved a zero-tolerance policy in 2002, no longer giving second chances to clergymen who’ve been accused of sexually assaulted children.
During his recent visit to the United States, Pope Francis met with sexual assault victims and personally apologized to them while promising accountability. The Global Post series aims to prove the Vatican has far more work to do to hold people accountable.
“I think what you have here is the church at the very least turning a blind eye to these men,” Carless told FNL.
“Sort of saying they are going to be less of a problem if they move elsewhere, people are going to make less of a fuss about them, and therefore we don’t need to do any follow up and do anything that might jeopardize the good name of the church,” he said.
“At the very least, it’s negligence,” Carless noted.
A list of priests and bishops accused of sexual molestation can be found at Bishopaccountability.org.
For the full interview with Carless, click on the video above.