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Dallas Resources – August 2002

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Bishops, Priests to Discuss Deliberations on Sexual Abuse

By Susan Hogan/Albach
Dallas Morning News
August 24, 2002

Dallas Catholic bishops will meet with the diocese's priests on Tuesday to discuss the public deliberations on clergy sexual abuse by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops two months ago in Dallas.

Bishop Charles. V. Grahmann and Coadjutor Joseph Galante sent a letter to the diocese's priests saying they wanted to clarify how the diocese intends to implement the "Charter for the Protection of Young People and Children" adopted by the conference.

"The last few months have certainly been trying and painful ones for the church in the United States," the bishops wrote. "We realize how profoundly your lives and ministry have been impacted this spring by the media attention "

In their letter, the bishops said the "moral authority of the episcopacy" was at stake in how the church addressed abuse issues. The letter also indicated the two-hour gathering at the Catholic Conference and Formation Center in Dallas will also be a time for the priests to receive pastoral support.

"We want to be present to you, our collaborators in the ministry, in the wake of the intense scrutiny which we know your lives and ministry have been under in the past few months," the letter said.

The letter said that, since 1997, the diocese has implemented a safe environment program in its schools and churches. The policy requires criminal background checks on employees and volunteers who work with children and vulnerable adults.

Since April, the diocese said it has taken action against three priests for failing to implement the policy fully. Two priests were reassigned to other parishes; the other priest was removed from four of Bishop Grahmann's key advisory committees.

The diocese said it hired an independent company to conduct an audit of its parishes and school was complying with the policy. Diocesan spokesman Bronson Havard said this week that the audit was completed in July and the diocese is waiting to receive the final report.

Dallas-Area Priest Placed on Leave, Accused of Raping Nun

By Associated Press
Amarillo (TX) Globe-News
August 25, 2002


Dallas (AP) - A Catholic priest in Ennis accused by a former nun who lives California of raping and impregnating her 19 years ago in the Philippines has been placed on administrative leave by the Diocese of Dallas.

Church officials said they learned last week that the woman had filed a lawsuit against the priest, the Rev. Ernesto Villaroya. They said he told them that he had a sexual relationship with the woman but that it was consensual, The Dallas Morning News reported in its Saturday editions.

Officials said he also told them last week that two months ago, he signed a notarized declaration of paternity.

Villaroya, who the diocese said is in his 60s, is not allowed to function publicly as a priest while its personnel board conducts an internal investigation.

"The diocese is reviewing his case in light of church law and facts yet to be determined," the diocese said in a prepared statement.

Villaroya has served as assistant pastor at St. John Nepomucene Catholic Church since October 2001. It's one of three parishes where former priest Rudy Kos abused boys from 1981 to 1992 before being sent to prison.

At Mass on August 18 a letter was read stating that the priest had been removed because of a relationship with a woman in 1983. The letter didn't mention the child or accusations of rape, parishioners said.

The former nun, Sylvia Abano Martinez Arambulo, filed a lawsuit this month in Los Angeles Superior Court accusing the priest of rape and assault. Her attorney, George Goldberg, said she had been a nun for two decades but left her order after she became pregnant.

Goldberg said she was ostracized in the Philippines after her pregnancy and told by church authorities to drop the case. Arambulo moved to the Los Angeles area in 1995.

Goldberg said on her son's 12th birthday he told her the only gift he wanted was to meet his father. But she had no success in finding the priest until he contacted her in April, asking to meet his son.

Villaroya lived in the Los Angeles area in the early 1990s before transferring to the Dallas Diocese in 1996. Church officials in Dallas said he told them he had been caring for his parents in California and not working as a priest.

The Los Angeles Archdiocese said Villaroya was living with his sister and performing several unauthorized duties as a priest. The archdiocese sent three letters ordering him to "cease and desist" any priestly functions, a spokesman said.

Officials at the Dallas Diocese said they welcomed the priest into the diocese six years ago after the Diocese of Masbate in the Philippines assured them that he was a priest in good standing with no allegations of sexual misconduct.

The Dallas Diocese said it has received no complaints against the priest since his arrival. Villaroya served in Garland before being assigned to the Ennis church.

Arambulo's lawsuit also accuses the Los Angeles Archdiocese and the Diocese of Masbate of keeping the priest's whereabouts hidden. Her attorney, Goldberg, said the suit will be amended to include the Dallas Diocese. He said he mistakenly named the San Antonio Archdiocese in the suit because he didn't know where Ennis was and wrongly thought that the "Dallas Diocese reported to the San Antonio Archdiocese."

There is no listing for Villaroya in Ennis, located about 30 miles south of Dallas.

 
 

Bishop Accountability © 2003
     
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