Safe Haven for Predator Priests

by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  September 19, 2018   

Priest who admits to sexual abuse of minors still ministers in South America

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South America is one place that homosexual predator priests go to flee canonical and legal sanctions for their crimes.

GlobalPost tracked five of these priests in South America. GlobalPost's senior correspondent Will Carless asked one of these priests, Fr. Paul Madden, if he had in fact sexually abused a boy who had credibly accused the priest of abuse. Madden responded, "Something happened. I was drunk. And I had never drunk before in my life. It was the first time ever." Madden added, "I woke up in the middle of the night and, well, yeah, something happened."

Madden was referring back to a case in the 1970s in which a lawsuit charged that he had "repeatedly molested and raped a 13-year-old boy. The homosexual predation occurred while he and the teenager were traveling to Ireland from Madden's home diocese of Jackson, Mississippi. At the time of the interview, Madden was functioning as a priest in Peru. Asked if would ever return to the United States, Madden replied, "I don't think so, no, because of this 'zero policy.' And this was before — that's not just from Pope Francis, this came out years before in the U.S."

When GlobalPost tried to approach Boston's archbishop, Cdl. Sean O'Malley, head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, they were turned away, being told by O'Malley's staff that their investigation "was outside the cardinal's, and the commission's, purview." Pete Saunders, a lay member of the pontifical commission and an advocate for victims of sexual abuse by priests, disagrees:

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.

Carless says the priests they went after "are just the tip of the iceberg." He says many other priests credibly accused of sex abuse in the United States and Europe have fled persecution by seeking refuge in foreign countries around the world.

One prelate accused of shuffling predator priests out of the country is the former archbishop of Los Angelos, Cdl. Roger Mahony. The well-respected online site,, documents Mahony's cover-up of several priests credibly accused of sexual predation.

Watch the panel discuss where priests go to flee the prosecution for sex abuse in The Download—Safe Haven for Predator Priests.


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