As investigation hits home diocese, can Cardinal DiNardo continue to lead on the abuse crisis?

America Magazine

November 30, 2018

By Kevin Clarke

Investigators for the district attorney of Montgomery County in Texas executed a search warrant seeking records pertaining to the handling of instances of alleged clerical abuse at the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston on Nov. 28. The spectacle of dozens of Texas Rangers and other local law enforcement swarming the Houston chancery offered the latest unprecedented moment as the church in the United States grapples with the ongoing crisis of the clerical abuse of children and vulnerable adults. The archdiocese is headed by Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the person leading the U.S. bishops’ response to the crisis.

In a statement released on Nov. 28 representatives for the archdiocese said it had no comment on the investigation at this time.

The D.A.’s investigation raises questions about how Cardinal DiNardo and his staff dealt with complaints against Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, accused by two people of assault two decades ago when they were teenagers. Both victims told The Associated Press that they met with Cardinal DiNardo but felt he did not take their complaints about Father La Rosa-Lopez seriously.

The leader of the Houston chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has already called for Cardinal DiNardo to step down to accept responsibility for alleged failures in Galveston-Houston and during a previous position as bishop of the Diocese of Sioux City. Presuming the bad press in Texas will continue, can Cardinal DiNardo continue to credibly lead the U.S. bishops as the conference seeks a way out of the abuse crisis?

“The answer is we don’t know,” said Tom Reese, S.J., a columnist for Religion News Service, a former editor in chief at America and a long-time observer of the U.S. church. “We have to wait until the prosecutor comes forward and says what he found and says what the situation is there.

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