In the next four months, all 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas will release names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. The lists will include information dating back to at least 1950, according to a statement released Wednesday by The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops.
The bishops’ decision was made in the context of their ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse, and their efforts to promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Catholic Church. TCCB said the decision to release names was made on September 30, but wasn't announced until nearly two weeks later.
With 8.5 million Catholics and 1,320 Catholic parishes in Texas, the endeavor to compile a comprehensive list of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor represents a major project, TCCB said. All dioceses will publish their lists by January 31, 2019.
“It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement. My brother bishops in Texas and I agree that transparency in this painful matter of sexual abuse can assist with healing for survivors and transformation for our Church,” Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS of San Antonio said.
The release of names of clergy credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor is part of an ongoing effort by the dioceses to provide an even safer environment for children. These lists will be updated as new information becomes available. Each bishop will be releasing his own statement and list, TCCB said.
Bishop Joseph E. Strickland released the following statement regarding the news:
"Today, the Catholic bishops of Texas jointly announced our intention to release the names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. I fully support this important act of transparency and the names of Diocese of Tyler clergy from our founding to present will be released no later than January 31, 2019 and posted on the diocesan website and made available to each parish. This list will be updated as often as necessary.
We have all been deeply hurt and saddened by the recent scandals in the Church. Please know that I will do everything possible to protect the faithful of the Diocese of Tyler from abuse, most especially, our children and vulnerable adults.
This is not the time for business as usual. As your bishop, I will do my part to ensure that our clergy, including myself, are held accountable to the high standards demanded by our ordination. While we are all sinners, bishops, priests, and deacons are called to be models of holiness and virtue. For your part,
please pray for the clergy. They are special targets for attack by Satan and his forces. Your support is essential.
On a day-to-day basis, we ensure the safety of children and vulnerable adults in the Diocese of Tyler through sound policies and procedures which promote a safe environment. I will ensure that these continue to be carefully observed and updated as needed. While the challenges faced in the Church are, above all, spiritual in nature, tools like background checks, training of clergy and volunteers, sound reporting mechanisms and outreach to victims are critical in the process of reconciliation, healing, accountability and prevention of future acts of abuse.
As Christ’s Bride the Church, we are all called to return to the Gospel virtues of humility, chastity, and obedience, and Church leaders must take the lead in this quest. As your bishop I am personally committed to this and I will support our priests as we seek to joyfully live out our priesthood in Jesus Christ. We must all be held to the standards of Gospel virtues proclaimed by God’s Divine Son.May God, who is all loving and all merciful, watch over his Church and protect all of his people, especially the children and the vulnerable – the “little ones” for whom Christ the Lord has a special love."
In addition to revealing the names of clergyman accused of sexual assault against children, the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops released a guide to help families prevent abuse and to report allegations.
Follow this link for information on how to report abuse
All Texas dioceses implemented "safe environment" education programmings to help people identify warning signs and report abuse. The programs also served as a way to education people on preventing further abuse.
All dioceses have policies in place to ensure those accused of sexual abuse are reported to local authorities. If the allegation is considered credible, the clergyman will be removed from their ministry.
Each diocese also has a Victim Assistance Coordinator who will provide counseling and professional assistance to victims. The diocese also provides victims with the opportunity to meet with the bishop to facilitate healing.