by Amna Shoaib
Churches in South America are buzzing with priests who were transferred there from places like U.S. and U.K. But many of these priests have a dark, unknown past.
A lot has changed in U.S. and U.K. in the past several decades. As society distances itself from the hold of religious institutions, the power of clerical authorities has waned in the developed countries. This has weaved new patterns on our social fabric, but one undeniably positive thing to come out of this change was that priests and religious figures are no longer immune to the law of the land.
After exhaustive investigations revealed that priests often targeted vulnerable children in the church, authorities started to take action and more priests were made to pay for the crimes. This policy means that churches no longer welcome priests accused of molestation.
So where do these priests go?
The Catholic Church, if it cannot protect its priests in developed countries, conveniently sends them to places where they will not have to face the consequences of their actions.
A recent report by GlobalPost sheds light on this chilling new trend of the Catholic Church sending accused priests to places like Peru and Brazil.
One such priest is the Rev. Jan Van Dael, 76, a Belgian living in Caucaia, Brazil, who is being investigated by the Brazilian and Belgian authorities on a plethora of child abuse allegations.
But in the northeastern Brazilian city where he lives, Van Dael enjoys a fairly relaxed life. There are no authorities ousting him from his position and taking him into custody, no TV channel hogging him all day.
Van Dael, under his charity, distributes soup to locals and is allowed to be in dangerous proximity to children. During the interview with GlobalPost, he reached out to touch a child’s hair, affectionately saying that he reminds him of a boy he had in his house in Rio de Janeiro. Van Dael’s room is lined with photos of children.
These are all the perks of the retirement plan offered by the Catholic Church to priests accused of rape and abuse. Spend a lifetime preying on children, before the church sends you off to a place where no one questions your morals.
The horrific thing is, the Catholic Church uses this as a tried and true method. This is how many abusive priests escaped prosecution or even public accusations in the U.S. At the first signs of suspected abuse, church authorities would simply transfer the priest in question. These constant transfers allowed many priests to go on a reign of molestation against the very children they were supposed to shepherd.