Priest Who Confessed to Abuse and was Convicted was Given Job Around Refugee Children by Catholic Church Officials

In an incredibly egregious case of recklessness and deceit, church officials in multiple countries and leaders at an international charity were aware that a priest was a convicted sex offender when he was given a key job among vulnerable refugee families fleeing violence in Africa.

It is unconscionable that so many people allowed Fr. Luk Delft to work around vulnerable populations again after his history of abuse. Everyone involved in this situation should be fired or removed from their positions of power.

In 2001, the Salesians did not report Fr. Luk Delft's confession of child porn possession to police. Instead, the quietly moved him to another Catholic school in Belgium.

In 2009, he was caught with child porn, but was still not reported to police.

Then, in 2012, he was convicted in Belgium on child porn charges. But just over six months later, his Catholic bosses again "handed (him) an important role that brought him into contact with some of the world's most vulnerable children" in the Central African Republic (deemed one of the worst nations on earth for children). He became the head of the charity Caritas' operations in the CAR and put "in charge of the organization's work in more than 120 parishes."

And last month, after CNN confronted him and his superiors, he was moved again, this time to the church facility in Belgium where he was first caught with child pornography.

He also spent time in Haiti in 2010 and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2008.

We call on Manila Cardinal Luis Tagle (Caritas president for the last five years), Bishop Luc van Looy (of Ghent) and Fr. Ángel Fernández Artime of Spain (the head of the Salesians) to resign. If they don’t voluntarily resign, Vatican officials should oust them all immediately and harshly discipline Fr. Juan Edmundo Vecchi of Argentina and Fr. Pascual Chávez Villanueva of Mexico - Fr. Artime's predecessors. That's the best and quickest way to deter such incredibly irresponsible behavior.

We call on every Catholic worker in Africa - especially in the CAR and DRC - to denounce these stunningly insensitive and risky decisions and aggressively seek out other kids who may have been sexually violated by Salesians and Caritas employees.

We call on every Catholic staffer - past and present - who has any knowledge of or suspicions about wrongdoing by Fr. Delft and his supervisors to call law enforcement immediately.

Our hearts ache for those Fr. Delft has hurt. We applaud their courage and urge them to stay strong and hopeful.

CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

 


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