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Accused priests not tracked, monitored

Dec. 5, 2010 at 2:54 PM

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 (UPI) -- Catholic priests accused of child abuse often vanish from public sight and even the church doesn't know where they've gone to, victims' rights groups say.

The vast majority were removed from their posts long ago, but church officials say they have no way to monitor where the men are now, The Washington Post reported.

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Additionally, the church does not keep official data on how many priests were defrocked, how many were imprisoned or placed on sex-offender lists, how many are working or how many are now dead, the newspaper said Saturday.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says at least 5,768 priests were accused from 1950 to 2009, and although the church considers the majority of the allegations credible, most have never been proved and many of the priests have never been publicly identified.

Priests expelled from the church often face difficulties in finding any kind of work, the co-founder of a support group for accused priests says.

Joe Maher of Opus Bono Sacerdotii says priests have been sacrificed to the church's rush to fix a broken system and that even guilty clergy deserve compassion.

"The Catholic Church is all about redemption and hope, so we have to live that on Earth," Maher, who regularly circulates e-mails from priests in dire financial straits, says.

The lack of information about the fate of accused priests worries victims' advocates, the say.

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