At least two priests thought to have engaged in paedophilia in the United States have not only continued to work in Scandinavia unharmed, but stand accused of similar crimes there as well, national broadcaster SVT reports.
One of the priests was active in three different Catholic parishes in Gary, Indiana during the 1980s and was listed as “credibly accused” of abusing six children. As the church's internal investigation was never handed over to the police, the priest was safely moved to Sweden in 2000.
The Swedish Catholic Church's communications officer Kristina Hellner confirmed that the man worked in Gothenburg and Falun. There, he was accused of sexual assault, this time against a woman. The Catholic Church of Sweden never reported the accusations to the police, as the woman was reluctant to testify.
“It's a charismatic priest who thinks he has healing powers. It was during such a healing session that he molested her,” Kristina Hellner told SVT.
The man, now 78, denies that this ever happened.
The second priest comes from Southeast Asia and was ordained in Oslo, Norway, where he worked for several years. When he worked as a priest in San Bernardino, California in 1993, he was reported to police for sex with a minor. However, the police investigation was closed when the child refused to testify. The priest was forced to quit but moved to Malmö, Sweden in 2003, where he worked for a year. There, he was accused of molesting a man in the congregation; the crime, however, was never reported.
Bishop of the Catholic Church in Norway Bernt Eidsvig told national broadcaster NRK that one of the accused was suspected of abuse in Norway in the 1980s. He subsequently changed his name and is no longer active as a priest.
The Catholic Church maintains a system of letters of recommendation, where priests have a so-called “letter of good standing”. According to Kristina Hellner, this is not always right and is something the church would now like to have stronger control over.
The Catholic Church of Sweden has about 150,00 members (or roughly 1.5 percent of the population)
Norway is estimated to have 230,000 Catholics, making it the most Catholic nation in Northern Europe.
In recent decades, abuse reports about hundreds of priests were filed with the Catholic Church.