Local Catholic diocese to release names of clergy ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing children
Catholic dioceses in Texas plan to release the names of clergy “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors, according to a news release issued Wednesday by the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville.
The diocese did not explain how it defines what constitutes a credible accusation of sexual abuse by clergy. The names will be released by the end of January.
The 15 diocese in Texas, including the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, decided last month that names of clergy accused from 1950 to present will be publicly released, an effort to “promote healing and restoration of trust in the Catholic Church,” according to the release.
“The care of victims and their healing is primary, and we must do what we can to strengthen those whose faith has been injured,” Diocese of Brownsville Bishop Daniel E. Flores said in a statement. “An accurate accounting of the past is necessary for us to move forward with integrity.”
The Catholic Church, in recent years, has come under fire for covering up sexual abuse of minors, including in a recent case in Conroe, Texas — a city north of Houston. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, a priest, was arrested last month surrounding allegations that Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Cardinal Daniel DiNardo ignored the sexual abuse allegations and instead moved LaRosa-Lopez to another church, according to the Associated Press. LaRosa-Lopez was arrested and charged with four counts of indecency with a child.
DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and others within the church met with Pope Francis at the Vatican in mid-September regarding abuse allegations within the Catholic Church, the Associated Press reported.
The decision to release the names by the Catholic dioceses in Texas was made on Sept. 30.
“This is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency,” DiNardo said in a statement. “Every bishop in our state has made a statement expressing his concern for all who have been hurt, and I want to express my personal sorrow at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened.”
It’s unclear how many clergy members are on the lists, including those who worked within the Catholic Diocese of Brownsville, which encompasses all churches in the Rio Grande Valley.
The church expects that “there may be people who come forward with new information” following the announcement made Wednesday, according to Gustavo Garcia-Siller, archbishop of San Antonio.
Sexual abuse may be reported to local law enforcement, regardless of the year the crime took place.
The Brownsville diocese requests anyone in the Valley, who may have been sexually abused by anyone within the Catholic Church, contact its victim assistance coordinator. Coordinator Walter Lukaszek may be reached by phone at (956) 784-5066 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We are completely committed to eradicating the veil of sexual abuse in the church and promoting healing among the faithful and those injured by this crime,” DiNardo said in the release.
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