Catholic Diocese of Brownsville removes priest over sexual misconduct with a minor accusation


February 13, 2024

By Francisco E. Jimenez

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville announced that a priest has been removed from his duties after he was accused of sexual misconduct with a minor.

In a statement released on the diocese’s website Tuesday, Bishop Daniel E. Flores said that a report was made against Father Fernando Gonzalez through the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator on Feb. 2.

“On February 3, in keeping with diocesan policy, I removed him from active ministry and have prohibited him from exercising any priestly ministry anywhere,” Flores said in the statement. “The individual who came forward, who is now an adult, spoke to the Diocesan Victim’s Assistance Coordinator, and was advised to report the allegation to the police.”

He said that the investigation is currently in the hands of law enforcement, and that the diocese will fully cooperate with the ongoing investigation.

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville did not provide any other details regarding the allegations or where Gonzalez was priest.

The Cameron County District Attorney’s Office on late Tuesday afternoon issued a press release saying that Gonzalez has been charged with continuing sexual abuse of a child, continuous trafficking of persons, trafficking of persons, sexual assault of a child and sexual performance of a child.

That news release said he was serving as a priest at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Brownsville.

“I am deeply saddened and ask you to join me as I pray for the individual who came forward and the family, and all the parties affected, including parishioners, and the clergy across our diocese who tend to their faithful with fidelity and compassion,” Flores said.

He went on to say that the diocese takes any allegations of sexual misconduct seriously. He also said that the safety and well-being of all people are of the utmost importance for the Church.

“I would like to express my gratitude and respect for the young adult who bravely came forward, and to our Victim’s Assistance Coordinator for her immediate response,” Flores said.

The bishop said that the Church encourages anyone who is a victim of sexual abuse to contact local law enforcement, as well as the Texas Department of Protective Services at 1-800-252-5400.

Anyone who has been the victim of abuse within the diocese is also encouraged to contact the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator Margie Garcia by calling (956) 238-1455, or send an email to

“The Diocese of Brownsville will continue to work tirelessly toward making every Catholic church, school, and institution a safe place for all,” Flores said. “May the Lord continue to bless us, protect us from all evil, and bring us to everlasting life.”

As for Gonzalez, he is being held on a total of $800,000 in bonds following his arrest by Brownsville police.

Should he make bond, he will have to surrender his passport and not leave Cameron County, according to the DA’s news release.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with information from the Cameron County District Attorney’s office and a photo of Fernando Gonzalez Ortega.