Amid Sadness, Sound Strategy

Whispers in the Loggia
January 14, 2008

Proving how truly different things are down in Texas -- and the lessons some of us can learn from that -- the Cardinal of the South called a press conference... on his own accord... to face down questions on a priest's removal from ministry... at his chancery... on a Sunday afternoon.

If the confluence of the above terms seems unusual, it's because the scenario is without precedent.

    Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo said Sunday that the Rev. Stephen Horn was removed in November from his current position as pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist Church in south Houston shortly after the victim, now an adult, reported the abuse.

    "This is a day of sadness for us," DiNardo said at a news conference Sunday.

    Horn is accused of sexually abusing a minor between 1989 and 1993.

    DiNardo declined to say where the 63-year-old Horn is now, other than to say he is receiving treatment and being monitored. He said the archdiocese will now await a decision from the Vatican before taking further action against Horn.

    Horn served at Christ the King, located on the near North Side, from 1981 to 1994; he has been pastor of St. Luke the Evangelist since 1994.

    DiNardo declined to give details of the sexual abuse, but said an Archdiocesan Review Board panel investigated the allegations and "thought there was credible evidence for the abuse allegations."

    A letter from DiNardo, who became a cardinal in November, was read to parishioners at Christ the King and St. Luke during Masses Saturday evening and Sunday.

    "An allegation is not a determination of guilt, and we each have a right to our good reputation," the letter said.

    "However, the Archdiocese takes allegations of sexual abuse of minors extremely seriously. Accordingly, it is my conclusion that Father Horn should be removed from active ministry at this time."

    The letter urged parishioners with any relevant information about Horn to contact the archdiocese's attorney or police.

    "This is a difficult time for everyone involved, which, because a priest is the alleged wrongdoer, includes all of the Clergy and Catholic Faithful of the Archdiocese," DiNardo wrote in his letter.

The chancery presser (video) was DiNardo's first since the October announcement of his elevation.


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