Pedophile Priests and the "Geographical Cure"

Pedophile priest
Father Mario Pezzoti is seen with children in Brazilian Amazonia. Pezzoti molested young boys as a priest in the United States and the Catholic Church promised he would not be reassigned to work with children. The church has similarly reassigned dozens of child molesters to locations overseas where thier past is not known.

At the Vatican Thursday, Pope Benedict made an oblique apparent reference to the worldwide sex abuse scandal enveloping the church. Meanwhile, a new investigation by the Associated Press reveals the church frequently moved pedophile priests from one country to another where some abused children again.

CBS News correspondent Elaine Quijano reports it's been more than 50 years, but Joe Callander is still haunted by the memory of Father Mario Pezzoti, who sexually abused him when he was 14 years old.

"It left lasting scars by all means," Callander said.

In addition to a financial settlement, he says the church made Callander a promise.

"I was given their word that he would not be around children," Callander recalled.

Callander tried to put the incident behind him. But two years ago, he spotted a picture of Pezzotti surrounded by Amazon Indian children in Brazil.

"If that's not worth 10,000 words, I don't know what is," he said. "The expression on his face is enough to scare the hell out of anybody, knowing what he's capable of."

Father Pezzoti is just one example of what may be a pattern. The Associated Press found 30 cases of priests accused of abuse then transferred overseas. One victim called it the "geographical cure."

Former Benedictine monk Richard Sipe says it is very common.

"It's like a checker game," Sipe said. "They are moved from place to place, wherever they can be hidden or given a job where their past is not known."

Father Vijaya Bhaskar Godugunuru is another example. In 2006, he pleaded no contest to assaulting a 15-year-old girl in Florida. Godugunuru was moved to India, then to Italy.

There are similar cases involving an Indian priest who molested a 14-year-old girl in Minnesota then continuing work in his home diocese and another transferred to India after molesting a 12-year-old girl in New York.

At the Vatican Thursday, Pope Benedict made an apparent reference to the scandal, calling on Christians to do penance.

"Under attack from the world, which has been telling us about our sins ... we realize that it's necessary to repent, in other words, recognize what is wrong in our lives," Benedict said.

But "the pope's target is misplaced," Sipe said. "He calls on Christians to do penance. The problem is not Christians; the problem is Catholic priests who are not practicing their celibacy."

Earlier this week the pope called on bishops to report allegations of abuse to police. But as more details emerge on the cover ups of the past, the question is whether this new pressure will force the Vatican to fully answer for the sins of the clergy.