HOUSTON - Lists of scores of Catholic clergy “credibly accused” of sexually abusing children were released Thursday by the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, said that while it may be a difficult day for the church, it is an important one.
“We publish it for the gospel,” DiNardo said. “We publish it because of the young people who were harmed.”
DiNardo said a lay group, comprised in part by former FBI agents, conducted a forensic review of church records and made recommendations to a lay review board of those who should be on the lists. The review board then made its recommendations.
According to the church, an allegation is deemed credible if the bishop of the diocese, upon reviewing available information after a lay board recommendation, determines there is a reason to believe it is true.
“This is what has happened over the past 70 years,” DiNardo added.
The archbishop said those on the lists have been removed from ministry and are being monitored by the church. When it comes to criminal charges against those who are still living, DiNardo said the statute of limitations on some cases prevents those from moving forward.
“There are some priests who have disappeared,” DiNardo said about other accused clergy.
DiNardo said that he has met with victims of abuse and that he believes they want to be heard above anything else.
“There is credibility with them,” DiNardo said. “They are today, in front. We’re saying to them, ‘Yes! Yes!’ I think that’s one of the most important aspects of this publication of the list today.”
Despite the anger by not only members of the church, but also members of the clergy, DiNardo said he is hopeful that the wounds inflicted by the abuse can be healed.
“We are moving ahead, but we are not trying to say, ‘OK. That’s past. Forget about it,’” DiNardo said. “No. We carry this with us.”
The archbishop said that one of the reasons the list was published is so that other victims of abuse can come forward.
“We’re very serious about this,” DiNardo said.
DiNardo said he will convey the feelings and concerns of victims to the bishops during a late February meeting in Rome and will call for greater transparency in the work of bishops.
Being listed does not mean these clergy members have been charged with or convicted of any crimes, according to the church.
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