Alleged abusive priest allowed to celebrate Mass in Texas church

By Barry Duke
Patheos blog
February 4, 2019

CARDINAL Daniel DiNardo, above, who leads the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has drawn criticism from the advocacy group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)  for allowing allowed a Houston priest who has been ‘credibly’ identified as an abuser to celebrate Mass last week at the Prince of Peace Catholic Church.

According to this report, Rev John T Keller celebrated the Mass the same day his name was among those released on a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse by the Galveston-Houston Archdiocese

DiNardo told Keller on Wednesday evening that he would be placed on administrative leave the next day, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said in a statement on Friday.

DiNardo allowed Keller, above, to lead the 9 am Thursday Mass at his parish, the statement said, because Keller:

Was already scheduled to celebrate it.

Hours later, Keller was listed among 40 members of the clergy as having been removed from ministry due to:

Recent allegations currently under investigation.

Fourteen dioceses in Texas on Thursday named those credibly accused of abuse, identifying 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children.

Michael Norris, a member of SNAP, said DiNardo’s  decision to allow Keller to conduct the Mass was:

Nonsense. The idea is when you remove someone from ministry, you remove someone from ministry. You remove the accused immediately.

As head of the Catholic bishops, DiNardo has shaped the US Catholic Church’s response to the clergy abuse crisis and met with Pope Francis about the issue.

At the same time, his handling of cases in Houston has come under question. Another local priest, Rev Manuel La Rosa-Lopez, was charged in September with four counts of indecency with a child. Two people who said La Rosa-Lopez victimised them said that they felt DiNardo didn’t do enough to stop La Rosa-Lopez, who was also on the list released on Thursday.

DiNardo and the archdiocese said they recently received new allegations against Keller.

But allegations that Keller let a 16-year-old boy drink alcohol and then fondled him have been public since at least 2003, when The Dallas Morning News reported that Keller was ordered to undergo counseling:

To ensure he is not at risk for any future inappropriate behaviour.

According to the newspaper, Catholic officials in Houston said then that the conduct could not be “identified as sexual abuse” and let Keller remain at his parish, Prince of Peace Catholic Community in northwest Houston.

The archdiocese declined to comment on Keller’s case beyond its statement, in which it said it had reported allegations against Keller to civil authorities and that it encouraged victims to cooperate with any investigation.


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