SNAP Urges Catholics Not to Donate to Fort Worth Diocese

By Angela K. Brown
Dallas Morning News [Fort Worth TX]
December 13, 2006

Local Catholics should not donate to the Fort Worth diocese until its bishop disciplines church officials who concealed sexual abuse, two leaders of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests said Wednesday.

They said people should donate to groups that help — not hurt — children.

"It's clear that where the church hierarchy won't take action to protect kids, then the lay people have to," David Clohessy of St. Louis, national director of SNAP, said outside the administrative offices of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth. "It is a monarchy, so the options for lay people to pressure a bishop are precious few."

Clohessy and Kristopher Galland, director of SNAP's DFW chapter, also urged Fort Worth Bishop Kevin Vann to give authorities all documents revealing any church leader's sexual misdeeds.

In a statement released Wednesday, diocese spokesman Jeff Hensley said the diocese was aware of "many concerns about the issues surrounding accusations of sexual abuse. We are actively pursuing these matters."

SNAP's request comes two weeks after a judge released about 700 pages of previously secret files relating to six priests accused of abusing minors. The documents had been sealed as part of a sexual abuse lawsuit settled last year and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, The Dallas Morning News and some of the accusers asked the judge to release the files.

The documents detail allegations against six clergymen: the late John Hanlon, William Hoover and James Reilly; and John Howlett, Philip Magaldi and Rudolph Renteria.

Files for the Rev. Joseph Tu Ngoc Nguyen, a Dominican order priest, remain sealed because he has appealed their release.

Prosecutor David Montague said Wednesday that the Tarrant County District Attorney's Office was still reviewing information, mostly the documents. He said his office has had limited contact with the diocese but has not asked for any information so far.

When Vann became bishop last year, succeeding the late Bishop Joseph Delaney, most of the accused priests were already gone from the diocese.

Two weeks ago, Vann said he was "embarrassed, disheartened, appalled and angered" by the behavior described in the notes, memos and e-mails from diocese leaders. Among the revelations were that Delaney and other church leaders were intentionally misleading about the misconduct because they feared bad publicity and lawsuits.

Vann also has said the church "could have acted more promptly and with greater compassion" to the victims, and he apologized to them. But he declined to criticize the cover-ups, saying he was not there when the decisions were made.

Vann also has said that he is trying to have two of the accused priests — Magaldi and Renteria — defrocked.

But Clohessy said Wednesday that defrocking two priests was not enough because the problem is more widespread. He said the leaders who knew about and covered up the abuse also must be punished.

"There has to be some sort of discipline," he said.

Last month, the diocese settled a lawsuit with 11 men who said they had been abused by Reilly.

Magaldi, who is retired from the ministry, and Tu, who stepped down, have maintained their innocence. Renteria, who was removed from priestly duties in 2002, did not return a call seeking comment. Howlett lives in Ireland under the supervision of his religious order, according to court documents.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.