Crisis in Catholic Church: One-on-one with Cardinal DiNardo
HOUSTON – There is a crisis in the Catholic Church.
Earlier this month, federal, state and local law enforcement officials executed a search warrant inside the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston.
From sunup to sundown, agents carried out computers, files and boxes.
Just 24 hours earlier, in those same offices, KPRC2's Bill Balleza sat down with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo for an exclusive interview about the sex abuse scandal that perhaps foreshadowed the next day's events.
Balleza: "Has the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston been subpoenaed as part of this investigation?"
Cardinal DiNardo: "No, we have not. We are, of course, ready to cooperate with any investigation."
The law enforcement search came on the heels of the arrest of the Rev. Manuel La Rosa Lopez, who was accused of abusing children in Conroe in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Balleza: "His case is being handled differently, you think, than it might have been a few decades ago?"
Cardinal DiNardo: "I suppose, yeah, that would be true but I would add this, Bill: In the present case, we announced it to his parish and he was taken out of his ministry. We're not saying much about Father Manuel's case right now because it's still under adjudication."
By the end of January 2019, the archdiocese has promised to release a list of all clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse.
That list will include accusations dating back seven decades.
Balleza: "Can you give us a sense of the scope of the scandal that will emerge with this list?"
Cardinal DiNardo: "One case is one too many and we do have a number of cases. I think, when you put them all together, some people might be taken aback. But I think a number of people will realize this is over the course of -- what? -- 60, 70 years."
Balleza: "But what I'm asking you is: When it is released, will it be a shock of the kind we saw in Boston?"
Cardinal DiNardo: "I can only speak for myself. I do not think it will be a shock of the same order but, certainly, there's going to be priests who are known by people and perhaps whose name has not yet been publicly released or was publicly released years ago and people have forgotten. That will be hard."
Balleza: "As the list is prepared, who is determining what constitutes a credible accusation?"
Cardinal DiNardo: "We are. All the diocese(es) in Texas are doing this. We are all publishing our list and credibly accused is being worked out in terms of our lawyers, even now, as we speak, and at the same time, we are bringing in an independent group of auditors."
In 2002, during an emergency meeting, the bishops decided all accusations of sexual abuse against a priest in an American diocese are to be examined by an independent review board.
DiNardo serves as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Cardinal DiNardo: "Since 2002, in the so-called Dallas Charter, when the bishops first decided to go after this issue, we have a lay review board that is filled by people who are law enforcement, judges, a psychologist, a person who deals with child sexual abuse. In other words, we tried to make the board very representative and very helpful to us."
The archdiocese is consulting with Kathleen McChesney. The bishops first asked McChesney for help in 2002. At the time, she was the FBI's third most senior official.
In 2002, the Dallas Charter only included provisions for handling accusations against priests and deacons. Cardinals were notably absent.
One of the leading authors of the charter was Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
He resigned earlier this year after being accused of sexual abuse.
Early next year, the American Catholic Church plans to revise the charter, this time adding cardinals to the list of clergy subject to accountability.
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