EXCLUSIVE: 'I'm sorry': Cardinal DiNardo talks about abuse cases in Catholic Church

By Bill Balleza - Anchor, Debbie Strauss, Aaron Barker - Senior Web Editor

HOUSTON - Cardinal Daniel DiNardo admitted that there is a crisis of faith among some in the Catholic Church, but said leaders are working hard to rid the church of allegations of abuse that are at the core of the disillusionment.

The archbishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, and the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, DiNardo addressed the issue during an exclusive interview with KPRC2’s Bill Balleza.

[SCROLL DOWN TO WATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW]

Balleza: “You have said today’s church, to use your words, is not like the church of the 1970’s and 1980’s. By that, do you mean bishops are no longer engaging in cover-ups, and quiet, silent payments, simply, transferring priests who abuse children, to other parishes in other dioceses, where they may continue this?”

DiNardo: “I can say this much about our diocese, and I can say I know about a number of bishops, we don’t transfer priests around when an accusation is made.”

The cardinal also briefly touched on the case of the Rev. Manuel La Rosa-Lopez -- a Houston-area priest accused of abusing two children while he was assigned to Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe during the late 1990s and early 2000s.

Balleza: “In this most recent case … his case is being handled differently, you think than it might have been a few decades ago?”

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.”

The cardinal said the use of review boards made up of laypeople of the church in recent years has helped to identify and remove priests from ministry. However, he said, more needs to be done.

“Let me say this,” DiNardo said. “I am committed and promise we will continue to work on eradicating this particular evil from the church.”

Balleza: “What do you say to survivors of priestly abuse?”

DiNardo: “The first thing I want to say is I'm sorry. The second thing is I'm sorry again, and let's work together, please come. You need to sit down. At times survivors are afraid to come forward. Maybe after they have done some of their own inventory they will come forward. We always promise and have promised in this archdiocese anyone who comes forward, no matter what happens, we promise counseling and attentiveness to them.”

DiNardo said a list of area priests credibly accused of abuse may be released by as early as the end of January. He said more action to modify the church’s charter aimed at protecting children could be taken after a meeting of bishops with the pope scheduled for early next year.

Watch the video below to see DiNardo's entire interview:

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