Roman Catholic priests were transferred from countries where they have been accused of abusing children even after the abuse scandal that swept the U.S. church in 2002, the Dallas Morning News reported on Sunday, after a year-long investigation.
Hundreds of priests accused of abuse have been moved from country to country, allowing them to start new lives in unsuspecting communities and continue working in church ministries where they are in contact with children, the newspaper reported in its Sunday edition.
According to the Dallas Morning News,the priests lead parishes, teach, and continue to work in settings that bring them into contact with children, despite church claims to the contrary.
In one case, the Rev. Frank Klep, a convicted child molester who has admitted abusing one boy and is wanted on more charges in Australia, was placed in Apia, Samoa, in the South Pacific. Australia has no extradition treaty with Samoa.
Klep told the newspaper that neither he nor the Church feels an obligation to tell anyone about his past. Few, if any, locals are aware of his history. "I'd prefer to just leave it," Klep said. "If I felt I was still a risk to their children, then I'd think differently. But I don't think I am at risk anymore."
Samoa's Archbishop Alapati Mataeliga, said he was startled to learn about the priest's past; but after speaking with the Salesians, he said he changed his mind.
"Although these incidents happened with these two priests, they have dealt with it themselves and with their congregation," the archbishop's secretary wrote in a letter. "They are valid and allowed to work in our archdiocese, and we are grateful for their services and hard work up to this point."
Vatican officials declined to comment Friday after an overview of the investigation was featured on National Public Radio.