San Antonio archbishop goes on TV to release report on accused priests
Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller invoked the language of the Catholic Mass as he made the first major public accounting of the scope of the church’s sexual abuse crisis in area parishes, saying it was “truly right and just” for the Archdiocese of San Antonio to name the priests credibly accused.
On ExpressNews.com: Read the report here
García-Siller took to the airwaves with an address to “the people of the archdiocese” — on Catholic television and live-streamed from archdiocesan Facebook pages — to address crimes against minors by clergy.
The report, posted online just before 2 p.m., categorizes allegations by the decade in which the abuse allegedly occurred. It lists priests by name, the number of accusations against them, details which parishes they were assigned to, and provides a brief explanation of when the allegations were made and when the abuse allegedly occurred.
Some of the priests had been previously exposed — a small number of them served prison terms — but through the decades, church officials handled most of the accusations away from public scrutiny.
The report lists allegations against 53 priests, the earliest in 1941 and the latest in 2009. According to the report, “no one has alleged that between 2010 and 2019 they were sexually abused by a clergy member in the Archdiocese.”
Fifteen priests have been accused of abuse occurring between 1970 and 1979, the decade with the largest number named
The archdiocese is “actively looking into” two allegations, one against a living priest who is retired and another made recently against a deceased priest.
The Archdiocese has also received three allegations against unnamed priests, who the survivor has been unable or unwilling to identify.
“An effort was made to assist the survivor in identifying the priest who allegedly abused him or her,” the report said.
Allegations that had been levelled against five living and seven deceased priests were “determined not to be credible,” the report said.
The archbishop said he was aware that the disclosures may cause “further grief” to those who feel they were victimized by priests, but added, “This report will help those who feel they have been ignored by the church.”
He acknowledged that “the report is difficult to read in some places” and that there would be “understandable anger from the survivors.” But García-Siller also said he was “edified” by the actions of some priests who came forward and assisted in the disclosures.
In announcing his intention to compile and release the report, the archbishop had said the need to respond to the scandal required a definitive break with previous practice.
Garcia-Siller’s public confession was one of 16 by Catholic bishops statewide — 15 dioceses and the Houston-based independent diocese named the Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter.
The state’s bishops agreed last fall to release their reports on Jan. 31, naming priests “credibly accused” of the sexual abuse of minors dating back more than 75 years.
Texas bishops were pressured, as were Catholic leaders nationwide, by a Pennsylvania grand jury report last August that named more than 300 priests credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 minors, since the 1940s.
Staff Writers Bruce Selcraig and Liz Teitz contributed to this report. | Elaine Ayala covers religion and minority affairs in the San Antonio and Bexar County area. Read her on our free site, mySA.com, and on our subscriber site, ExpressNews.com. | email@example.com | Twitter: @ElaineAyala