Texas Catholic Church Names Almost 300 Priests Accused of Pedophilia
Catholic church as it braces for a series of federal and state investigations
The Roman Catholic Church in Texas released the names of nearly 300 priests who have been credibly accused of child sex abuse spanning nearly eight decades on Thursday.
The news comes in the latest stream of revelations by the church as it braces for a series of federal and state investigations for its approach to handling sexual misconduct.
15 of the state’s dioceses posted the names of the accused pedophile priests which followed the bombshell report on clerical sex abuse by the Pennsylvania attorney general that launched the investigations into the Church.
Pennsylvania attorney general claimed the Vatican was fully aware of the cover-up of child abuse and pedophilia in the state's dioceses since the Bishops shared their secret archives with Rome.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said it was the release of the name was 'the right thing to do' in a recent statement.
“The bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer to heal and hope to those who have suffered,” the cardinal said.
“On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. This wound has lacerated our church, and we must take action to heal it.”
According to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, there are an estimated 8.5 million Catholics in Texas which makes it one of the most populated Catholic states in the country.
Last year, dozens of local and federal agents raided the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston as part of the continuing investigation into child abuse.
But following the release of the Pennsylvania report, which revealed alleged abuse by over 300 priests, many other dioceses and religious provinces have followed suit by publishing names of abusers.
But Texas is not among the many churches who have opened investigations into child sex abuse.
Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton said on Thursday that he was equipped to reply to any request for assistance by local and federal law enforcement agencies.
“We have not received any such requests, but we are ready to assist local prosecutors by state law and original criminal jurisdiction,” Mr. Rylander said in an email.
“No young person should ever live in fear of abuse, especially abuse from religious and spiritual leaders.”
Each diocese prepared the published list separately.
Some of the names are dated to the middle of the 20th century, while some dioceses started their reviews at 1940, and other at 1950.
But many of the clerics have died, while few resulted in prosecution.
The list contains details of names of clergymen and limited biographical information, but not much of the details of the alleged abuse.
The lists mainly focus on alleged abuse of children.
The shortcomings of the lists have angered many survivor advocates.
The spokesman in Dallas for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, Paul Petersen, said the lack of information stated a need for the investigation of the history of clerical sex abuse in Texas.
“All of this is the fox guarding the henhouse,” he said.
“Most of this has not been corroborated by the police department, so you have to scratch your head and say, ‘Where is the actual transparency?’”
Petersen suggested that thee were more than 300 pedophile priests that committed sexual abuse in Texas since 1950.
He highlighted a report by Illinois attorney general in December that stated Catholic Church there had withheld the names of at least 500 pedophile priests.
“I am skeptical,” he said.
“I am not trying to make it bigger than it is, but I think the number 300 is crazy low.”
But few of the allegations reported were made since 2002, the year when the church adopted the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which led to the crackdown in child abuse.
The leader of the San Antonio chapter of the survivor's network, Patti Koo, said that when she first heard her local diocese was about to release names of accused priests, she had been “a Pollyanna, talking a lot about hope.”
The Archdiocese of San Antonio on the report Thursday “leaves a really bad taste in your mouth,” she said.
“When I read the report I just thought, ‘Oh my god, this isn’t good — they can’t have no reports of sexual abuse in the last ten years, come on,’” she said.
“I think we are a long way from justice, I really do.”