DALLAS -- Police, prosecutors and judges in several countries have done nothing to stop Roman Catholic priests from going abroad to escape allegations that they sexually abused young people, and in some cases have allowed them to leave, according to The Dallas Morning News.
The newspaper, as part of a yearlong investigation into the international shuffling of accused clergy members, found police and prosecutors who had failed to take the most basic steps to catch fugitive clerics. Some law enforcement officials said they did not have the resources to hunt down errant priests.
Among the cases cited by the newspaper, were four religious brothers from the Canadian province of Newfoundland who have been living in the United States after getting special treatment from Canadian justice officials.
Two of the men are fugitives whom Canadian prosecutors have never tried to extradite, while the two others are convicts. One was released from prison unusually early, and another was allowed by a Canadian judge to serve his house arrest in upstate New York, where no one has authority to supervise him.
US immigration and customs officials told The News they were investigating the cases, as was a member of Canadian Parliament.
Marci Hamilton, a specialist on church-state relations, said law enforcement officials are sometimes less aggressive in prosecuting clergy members. Some consider religious leaders more trustworthy and others are concerned about voter response, she said.
''The reason for all this is so plain, it's scary: It's political," Hamilton said.