Catholic Diocese of El Paso to release list of priests accused of sexual abuse
By María Cortés González
El Paso Times
October 10, 2018
|Bishop Mark Seitz of the Catholic Diocese of El Paso wants Catholic parishioners to know the diocese is being proactive in providing a safe environment for children.|
Photo by MARK LAMBIE
The Catholic Diocese of El Paso, along with others in Texas, will release the names of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors by Jan. 31.
“The Diocese of El Paso supports making available the names of all those who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse in an effort to promote the healing of victims. Publication of these lists enables other victims to come forward to seek healing. The care for victims and their families is where our focus must be in order to transform and heal the Church,” Bishop Mark J. Seitz said in an emailed statement.
The decision was made Sept. 30 by the 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter. The lists of clergy will cover from 2018 to at least 1950.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, said in the released statement that "this is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency."
"Every bishop in our state has made a statement expressing his concern for all who have been hurt and I want to express my personal sorrow at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened," DiNardo added.
"We are completely committed to eradicating the evil of sexual abuse in the church and promoting healing among the faithful and those injured by this crime.”
Officials said compiling the list will be a major undertaking since there are 1,320 parishes and 8.5 million Catholics in Texas.
“It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement. My brother bishops in Texas and I agree that transparency in this painful matter of sexual abuse can assist with healing for survivors and transformation for our Church,” Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, archbishop of San Antonio, said in the statement.
The lists will be updated as new information becomes available. Each bishop will be releasing his own statement and list. People can find information to report abuse by a priest or deacon at http://txcatholic.org/how-to-report/
María Cortés González may be reached at 546-6150; firstname.lastname@example.org; @EPTMaria on Twitter.
Texas dioceses' efforts to ensure safer environment for children
The Catholic dioceses in Texas are releasing the list of accused priests as part of an ongoing effort by the dioceses to provide a safer environment for children. They also have taken the following the steps to prevent abuse:
Safe Environment education: All Texas dioceses have implemented comprehensive “safe environment” education programs and have together trained many of the 8.5 million Catholics in the state — adults, minors, employees, clergy, and volunteers — on how to identify, report and help prevent abuse.
Prior to his anticipated ministry, every priest seeking to minister in a diocese is to present a written attestation of suitability supplied by his bishop/religious superior.
Background checks: The dioceses conduct background evaluations for all bishops, priests, deacons and religious personnel, as well as other diocesan, parish, and school personnel who have regular contact with minors. Since 2002, criminal background checks have been completed regularly on volunteers, employees and clergy who are involved in ministry in the church.
Response to allegations of abuse by Texas dioceses
Reporting to civil authorities: All of the Texas Catholic dioceses have policies to report to civil authorities whenever there is cause to believe that a minor has been sexually abused.
Removal from ministry: Diocesan policies provide that a bishop, priest, deacon, or religious personnel who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor will be removed from ministry.
Healing efforts for survivors of priest abuse
Therapeutic and pastoral response: Each diocese has a victim assistance coordinator who facilitates the provision of counseling and other professional assistance to help those who report they were sexually abused as minors. In addition, all victims of childhood sexual abuse by a minister of the church have the opportunity to meet with the bishop in order to facilitate healing.
Publication of names: The Texas dioceses are actively reviewing files of bishops, priests and deacons. Each bishop will publish a list by Jan. 31.