From The Texas Catholic
The Catholic bishops of Texas have announced that they will release the names of clergy who have sexually abused a minor, going back to 1950.
The bishops’ voted Sept. 30 while meeting in Austin at the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops to the release in keeping with “their work to protect children from sexual abuse, and their efforts to promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Catholic Church,” said a statement from the conference.
The conference of bishops said that all dioceses in the state will publish their lists by Jan. 31, 2019.
“Every bishop in our state has made a statement expressing his concern for the faith,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston. “This is in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency. I want to express my personal remorse at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened. We are committed to promoting healing among the faithful and those injured by the crime of sexual abuse.”
Bishop Edward J. Burns spoke to media about the decision on Oct. 10, saying that he and his brother bishops hope this action can be “a step that leads to healing for all those who have been harmed by members of the Church.”
Bishop Burns told media members that he had announced the prior night during a town hall meeting at St. Cecilia Catholic Church that the diocese has a team of former law enforcement personnel examining its clergy files.
“My brother bishops and I recognize that this type of transparency and accountability is what the Catholic faithful want and need,” the bishop said, adding that the work began February 2018 with files of seminarians and deacon candidates.
“While opening our files to outside investigators and releasing the names is a necessary step of involving others into this process, I am also pleased with our diocesan review board – a board of competent lay faithful who hold the diocese accountable,” Bishop Burns said. “By having the involvement of all these people, it helps us in staying focused as we seek to do what is right.”
The bishop called on the lay faithful of the diocese to help rebuild the church, which he said is in crisis, adding that these rebuilding efforts “can’t be left to the hierarchy of the church to handle alone.”
“I welcome the collaboration and the critical eye of people concerned with the protection of children,” he said.
The bishop said once the list is released there likely will be some familiar names as well a few surprises, but none of those names will be of currently active priests.
“I can assure you that there are no priests in any parish in this diocese that have been credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor,” Bishop Burns said.
There are more than 8.5 million Catholics in 15 dioceses and 1,320 parishes throughout Texas. The conference said that the work to produce such a list represents a major project.
“It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information, with this announcement,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio. “As bishops, we are deeply sorry that in the past some in the church have failed in their responsibility to protect minors. We bishops believe it is important for survivors of abuse, Catholics and the public that we provide as comprehensive a list as possible.”
Earlier this year, Diocese of Dallas officials announced that it had reached a settlement with three now-adult men after they alleged that Father Edmundo Paredes, the longtime pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff, had sexually abused them more than a decade ago. The priest, who also is accused of stealing thousands of dollars during his 27-year tenure at the parish, is believed to have fled to his native Philippines and has not been located despite work by private investigators hired by the diocese.
To the victims of that abuse as well as others in the past who may have been abused, Bishop Burns expressed “heartfelt sorrow for the pain and suffering that they have endured at the hands of those who were to be trusted and to their families, also, for the anguish that have experienced that their church failed them.”
The bishop said he understood their frustration and anger.
“I need to assure them of my sorrow and also assure them we are going to do our best in making this right,” he said.
The bishop also addressed the Catholic faithful, who he said are embarrassed by the recent allegations and incidents.
“I pledge to them that we are going to truly be accountable, that we are going to truly create a safe environment and that the priests who serve, the deacons who serve and the bishops who serve are truly going to be the men we say we are,” Bishop Burns said.
Anyone who has been sexually abused by clergy is encouraged to contact local law enforcement or call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400, visit www.txabusehotline.org or call the Diocese of Dallas Victim Assistance Coordinator, Barbara Landregan, at 214-379-2812.