Every Catholic diocese in Texas will release a list of members of its clergy — including bishops, priests and deacons — who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor.
“Our hope is by doing so, that we can move forward especially now by creating more trust from the people, but also for healing for those who have been harmed by a cleric,” said the bishop of the Austin Diocese, Joe Vasquez.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops made the announcement Wednesday, promising that names of clergy members going back to a least 1950 will be released. The list will be published by Jan. 31, 2019, the church said.
“This is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, who expressed “personal sorrow at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened.”
The cardinal said, “We are completely committed to eradicating the evil of sexual abuse in the church and promoting healing among the faithful and those injured by this crime.”
Described as a “major project,” the church says it is compiling a comprehensive list of clergy members. There are 8.5 million Catholics and 1,320 Catholic churches in Texas, the conference said.
Each bishop in Texas will be releasing his own statement and list.
“It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement,” said Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, the archbishop of San Antonio. “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.”
The Travis County District Attorney’s Office told KXAN’s Erin Cargile it has not received any of the associated cases and the Austin Police Department said it cannot take any investigative action without a victim and an outcry.
The Diocese of Fort Worth on Wednesday released an updated list of its clergy accused of sexual abuse.
SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a statement Wednesday that the church’s immediate next step should be to contact local prosecutors and the state attorney general and invite an independent investigation.
“We recognize that the bishops hired outside investigators in their run-up to releasing the names of credibly accused priests, yet these investigators were still hired and paid by the church,” the organization said. “History has shown that it is better to leave a full investigation to truly independent authorities.”
Referring to the church’s decision to list only “credible” abusers as a “dodge,” SNAP said church officials are “not arbiters of what is credible and what is not.”