The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops announced that all dioceses will release the names of clergy who have been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors dating back to the 1950s in January 2019.
The announcement said the list will be published sometime in January 2019, the Texas Tribune reported. Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller with the Archdiocese of San Antonio said the release of names will send a message of “accountability and transparency.”
“Even though it will be painful, we believe that to bring this awareness will give [survivors] hope,” Archbishop Garcia-Siller stated. “We hope that if some victims have not come forward, they will come forward … And we believe it’s the right thing to do.”
Officials said the January release date will allow time for additional victims to come forward with appropriate vetting.
The Texas Tribune reported:
The step marks the most significant yet from the Catholic establishment in Texas, as states across the country reckon with sexual abuse in churches. An August grand jury report in Pennsylvania found abuse of more than 1,000 victims from more than 300 priests over a period of 70 years. In the weeks following that report’s release, attorneys general in a half-dozen states announced they would launch similar investigations into sex abuse by Catholic priests.
There have been calls for Texas to take similar steps, but the archbishop would not say whether he invites such a measure in Texas, saying only “we think that what we are doing is what we should do.” Catholic leadership reached the decision Sept. 30.
Critics say the announcement may not reveal the true scope of the problem in Texas. There has not yet been a disclosure of what a “credible accusation” of abuse would entail.
In September, law enforcement officials in Montgomery County, Texas, arrested a Catholic priest in connection to allegations of sexual abuse involving two minors. The allegations date back to 1998, Breitbart Texas reported.
Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez turned himself into Conroe law enforcement officials on September 11 after a court issued an arrest warrant regarding charges that he sexually abused at least two children nearly 20 years ago, the Catholic News Agency reported in September. A woman accused the priest in 2001 of kissing and touching her inappropriately at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe when she was 16-years-old, the Catholic news outlet reported. He is also accused by a now 36-year-old man of sexually abusing him for several years beginning in 1998.
Catholic Church leadership said Wednesday that all allegations of abuse are reported to local law enforcement authorities.