Auxiliary bishop latest to be hit with sex abuse allegation in archdiocese
By Samantha Ketterer
June 25, 2019
|Exterior view of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Sunday, Jan. 20, 2019, in Houston. The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has temporarily stepped aside from public priestly duties after being hit with an allegation of sexual abuse.|
Photo by Marie D. De Jesús
The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has temporarily stepped aside from public priestly duties after being hit with what the archdiocese has termed a “false allegation” of sexual abuse from 1971.
Several chancery departments and at least one pastor received letters addressed to Bishop George Sheltz, containing an accusation of molestation, archdiocesan officials said in a statement dated Friday.
The letter writer, who said she was a minor in 1971, also expressed anger that her current pastor was being moved to another parish. She indicated she would go public with her accusation against the auxiliary bishop if he went forward with the re-assignment.
The archdiocese stood behind the prelate, asking for prayers for him “and all those impacted by abuse.”
“Bishop Sheltz has served as a priest of this Archdiocese for more than 48 years and has never had a single complaint of inappropriate conduct with minors or adults,” the archdiocese’s statement reads. “We firmly believe this allegation to be completely false. It seeks to use blackmail tactics to keep a Pastor in his current assignment while casting a shadow on what we know is a lifetime of superb and selfless priestly ministry.”
Archdiocesan officials haven’t been able to identify the person who wrote the letter, they said. She stated a name but didn’t leave a return address or contact information.
Officials at the archdiocese said they believe the allegation lacks credibility, but reported it to the Houston Police Department and Child Protective Services. They also notified the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, an embassy of the Holy See.
Sheltz will remain in the chancery office but volunteered to temporarily step aside from his public priestly ministry, the archdiocese said.
A biography page on the archdiocese’s website shows that Sheltz was ordained to the priesthood in 1971 -- the same year of the allegation. His first placement was at Assumption Catholic Church, on Houston’s northside.
He served at six parishes before being named a monsignor, and later, auxiliary bishop in 2012.
Sheltz has been filling in as the parish administrator at Prince of Peace Catholic Community in northwest Houston since the longtime pastor, John Keller, was removed from ministry following at least two accusations of sexual abuse.
The archdiocese’s defense of Sheltz comes months after officials identified more than 40 “credibly accused” clergy members over a span of seven decades.
The list, which was released in January, did not include Sheltz. It did identify two priests who were the subject of current investigations. One was Keller, and the other was Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, who is facing a criminal investigation in Montgomery County.