Dallas Bishop Calls for Worldwide Gathering on Sex Abuse Scandal
By Ben Russell and Noelle Walker
August 31, 2018
Bishop Edward Burns, of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas, is leading an almost unprecedented effort to urge Pope Francis to call for a worldwide gathering of clergy to address the ongoing child sex abuse scandal within the church.
“If the church is ever going to restore trust and credibility it would only come after consistently doing what is right and just,” Burns said during a news conference Thursday, detailing the petition signed by the two North Texas bishops and 21 priests that calls for a synod – a gathering of Catholic clergy at the Vatican.
That letter was followed by another letter signed by 58 Catholic women leaders, calling on the Pope for answers.
"This scandal is very, very serious and it needs to get corrected. That is why I signed the letter," said Dr. Kathryn Rombs, a Catholic scholar at Univerity of Dallas, and mother of 6 children.
Rombs is one of several women in North Texas to sign the letter initially. The letter has since been open for others to sign. By Friday afternoon, the number was at nearly 20,000 signatures.
"I think that women are poised to make an impact right now," Rombs said. "I believe that now, more than ever, the Catholic church and the world need women's values, women's respect for the dignity of other people."
Earlier this month, a grand jury report detailed the apparent cover up of more than 1,000 accounts of child sexual abuse at the hands of more than 300 priests in six dioceses in Pennsylvania over the past 70 years.
Locally, Burns recently announced the claims by three men that the longtime pastor of Saint Cecilia Catholic Church in Oak Cliff molested them more than a decade ago.
Father Edmundo Paredes served at St. Cecilia for 27 years until June 2017, when he admitted to stealing upwards of $80,000 from the church. Once the diocese suspended Father Paredes he vanished, and is believed to have traveled to his native home in the Philippines.
Soon after the suspension of Father Paredes came the allegations of sexual abuse, according to Burns.
The diocese immediately reported the abuse allegations to Dallas police but, based upon an agreement with the attorneys of the three adult victims, did not inform parishioners of the claims for four more months.
“It was out of the utmost care and concern for the victims that we had pledged to the victims that we would not make it public at that time,” Burns said.
In response to a question that his renewed call for change within the Catholic Church could be seen as ‘too little, too late,’ Burns noted that he can understand the anger of those who feel betrayed.
“I offer my words of apology, sorrow and embarrassment that all of this is taking place in the church,” Burns said. “And to those who have been victimized I have to accept the frustration and anger that they throw at us.”