The Catholic Church has a well-documented, albeit severely under-addressed, history of child abuse that has occurred at the hands of its priest for decades. Dioceses have attempted to hide it, to payout survivors of abuse, and now, according to a report released by ProPublica in conjunction with the Houston Chronicle, it would appear priests who’ve been credibly accused of abuse have been finding work in new dioceses abroad with the Church’s blessing.
Starting in 2018, U.S. dioceses began compiling and releasing lists of priests in their churches who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. ProPublica and the Chronicle analyzed 52 of those lists, 30 of which had the highest number of credibly accused clergy, and found that 51 people on those lists were able to find work in the Church abroad, some still working with children.
In certain cases, as with Rev. Jose Antonio Pinal, the report found that priests were not only able to find work in the Catholic Church again but were supported by fellow clergy and by various dioceses themselves. Pinal, for example, was kept on the Sacramento payroll so that he might more easily find a new assignment in Mexico, where he currently lives and serves.
And, unsurprisingly, it would appear that no amount of time spent continuing to work as a priest, allegedly someone meant to be an example of, facilitate, and inspire an understanding of God and all their goodness, has provided Pinal any kind of remorse for the abuse he’s accused of.
“His only advantage over me is that when this happened, he was a minor,” Pinal said of Ricardo Torres, who alleges he was assaulted by Pinal at 15, “So, legally, I am screwed. Because of this I had to leave the diocese and the United States, as you mentioned, for a long period of time (5-6 years).”
Not exactly the kind of response you’d hope to hear from a person who is alleging to be part of God’s presence on earth, but then again it remains consistent with kind of attitude the Catholic Church has had regarding these allegations from the beginning. Pinal, for his part, has multiple letters from the bishop of his diocese where he was accused, encouraging and supporting his continued work in the Church years after the allegations were brought forward and he fled.
“This was a grave failure of judgment and a betrayal of trust,” the current bishop of Pina’s former dioceses said “The safety of children is our highest priority. In 1989, those in leadership failed to do so. I must own and atone for this.” Which, to be honest, just sounds like a lot of empty words coming from a largely empty institution that, regardless of how many times these kinds of allegations have come forward, has refused to make any substantial attempt in addressing the issue.