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Cardinal DiNardo to meet with Pope for second time since ex-Conroe priest arrest

October 8, 2018

Ahead of a Monday meeting with Pope Francis, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston echoed his call for a review of how the Vatican handled the rise of a Washington D.C. cardinal amid sex abuse claims.

DiNardo, who leads the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is slated to meet with the Pope a second time since Sept. 11 when a Houston-area priest was arrested on four counts of indecency with a child.

In a statement from Rome on Sunday, DiNardo seconded Pope Francis’ pledge to study the Vatican archives to determine how the Catholic Church addressed allegations that former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick was sleeping with seminarians and priests. The claims were reported as early as 2000.

DiNardo applauded the Pope for taking steps to “ensure the faithful are protected from the evil of sexual assault.”

While the cardinal’s remarks do not cite McCarrick or anyone else by name, the statement refers to the Pope’s Oct. 6 request for the internal review of claims against McCarrick, who resigned in 2006.

“The truth will ensure terrible sins of the past are not repeated,” DiNardo wrote. “The courage of abuse survivors who first brought the horrific truth of sexual abuse to light must continue to be matched by our courage as pastors to respond in justice.”

Additionally, DiNardo’s statement did not reference the criminal investigation into Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, the priest formerly assigned to Richmond’s St. John Fisher Church. La Rosa-Lopez, is accused of molesting two young parishioners of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe.

The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston did not respond to a request for comment following DiNardo’s remarks.

Michael Norris, of Houston’s chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, took exception to DiNardo’s overseas trip and failure to address the accusations against one of his own.

“He has a lot of nerve,” Norris said Sunday night. “He’s got his own issues in Houston that need to be addressed, not being off in Rome.”

La Rosa-Lopez has been accused of assaulting a teen boy and girl from 1998 to 2000, according to investigators in Montgomery County.

By DiNardo’s arrival at the Houston archdiocese in 2004, La Rosa-Lopez had been ordered to undergo sex addiction therapy and assigned to the parish in Richmond, about 70 miles to the southwest of Conroe.

Before reporting La Rosa-Lopez to the police, both victims said they met with DiNardo but in their view he did not take them seriously.

A third accuser came forward last Thursday to allege that La Rosa-Lopez inappropriately touched him on multiple occasions in the mid-1990s while he was an altar boy at a Houston church.

nicole.hensley@chron.com

@nkhensley

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