Staff members pray the rosary in the Chapel of St. Thomas More in the Chancery of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston Jan. 31, joining parishes across the archdiocese for a rosary for "healing in the church." The prayer was said the same day Texas bishops released the names of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors. CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald

Texas dioceses name 278 clergy in sexual abuse disclosure

By  James Ramos, Catholic News Service
  • February 1, 2019

HOUSTON — In a step to restore trust in the Catholic Church, dioceses in Texas released the names of 278 priests who have been named in credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.

The 15 dioceses disclosed the names Jan. 31 in a statewide disclosure which removed duplication of clerics whose names appear on multiple diocesan lists.

Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller of San Antonio called the release "the just and right thing to do," and a "move forward in building a healthier community, a healthier society."

The lists include incidents reported since 1950 and were compiled separately by each diocese.

Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, extended his "deepest regret for the harm that has been done," a sentiment echoed by bishops interviewed by the Texas Catholic Herald, newspaper of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.

"In multiple incidents over the years, the Church and her ministers failed to protect the most vulnerable souls entrusted to our care," DiNardo said. "There is no excuse for the actions of those credibly accused of such sins against the human person."

While each diocese prepared its list independently, Garcia-Siller said the goal of releasing the lists on the same day was significant and was done in consideration of all those affected by the abuse including abuse survivors, family members, friends and parishioners.

"When survivors see these names, it hurts them," Garcia-Siller said.

He emphasized how each diocese remains committed to supporting and working with survivors and others affected by clergy abuse through a victim assistance coordinator. The Church offers psychological and pastoral services through the coordinators to aid in the healing process, he said.

The archbishop recognized Pope Francis' call for accompaniment, or walking with those within and outside of the church, especially clergy abuse survivors.

"We need to let other voices help us, and that is accompaniment. It needs to be something alive, it is not just a check mark. We need to hear the voices and see how we can better serve the people," Garcia-Siller said.

"Accompaniment doesn't end with listening. We must embrace the recommendations ... and always be open about the relationship with victims and survivors. We must be vigilant and work toward a change in the culture and in the dominant culture," he said.

DiNardo agreed, saying it was his "sincere hope" that the list would be "a step forward to healing for those who have suffered in the wake of such actions."

"We humbly pledge to accompany them on that journey to wholeness and pray that God may bring them an awareness of his loving compassion," he said.

There are more than 8.5 million Catholics in Texas, and more than 1,320 parishes in the 15 dioceses.

The release includes the Galveston-Houston and San Antonio archdioceses and the Austin, Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Laredo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Tyler and Victoria dioceses.

Each diocese worked with the general understanding that a "credible allegation" is one that, after reviewing reasonably available and relevant information, and in consultation with diocesan lay review boards and/or other professionals, the diocese has reason to believe is true.

"Our hope is that acknowledging our past and demonstrating our accountability can bring healing and hope to deep wounds," Bishop Brendan J. Cahill of Victoria said.

The dioceses used 1950 as the starting point for its lists to be consistent with the 2004 study by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York that surveyed the nature and scope of the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests and deacons. The study covered the period of 1950 to 2002.

Several dioceses are participating in spiritual events to pray and act toward the healing of clergy abuse survivors.

The Jan. 31 release comes weeks before Pope Francis convenes a gathering of leaders of the world's bishops' conferences Feb. 21-24 at the Vatican.

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