The 15 diocese that comprise the Catholic church in Texas will release the names of clergy members who have been accused of the sexual abuse of a minor. The release will occur on January 31. The stated goal is to protect children in the future and heal the church simultaneously. However, it is clear that these dioceses as well as diocese around the nation which are taking similar actions, are doing so because they are being forced to by the growing national outrage of the disgraceful way in which the Catholic Church throughout the nation has dealt with claims of sexual abuse against its clergy members.
According to the Associated Press, bishops in the state made this decision in late September. The release will not occur until January 31, however, because it will include all of the 1,320 parishes in the state. As big an undertaking as this will be, it is years overdue. Dallas Bishop Edward Burns is in charge of the project, and in a statement, said he hopes it leads to healing for those who have been harmed by the church. Considering the church’s historical betrayal of victims of sexual abuse, the publication for many may be too little too late.
Bishop Burns has also hired a team of former state and federal law enforcement officers to look over the files of the 220 priests in his diocese to ensure any accusations against priests have been handled appropriately. That investigation could even take a look at those who were formerly part of the diocese in the past. It is possible this investigation stems from the August reveal that pastor Edmundo Paredes had previously abused three boys, then stolen church funds and left to return to his native country, the Philippines.
The case of Paredes is not the only one to touch the state of Texas. Earlier this fall, a third individual alleged Houston priest Manuel La Rosa-Lopez had abused him as a teen and Cardinal Daniel DiNardo may have disregarded the reports of abuse. La Rosa-Lopez was arrested in September.
Texas is not the only state to move to release those names. There are also calls to make similar records releases in California and Ohio. While victims groups applaud the efforts, many have asked that the Texas Attorney General’s Office get involved in the release to help add a measure of transparency to the proceedings. The problem with this whole effort is that since the statute of limitations has run for most victims, justice, will be obtainable for only a precious few unless the state changes its laws.