HOUSTON — In a stunning decision, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston announced Wednesday it will release the names of all clergy "credibly accused" of sexually abusing a minor, dating back to at least 1950.
At a recent meeting in Austin, bishops agreed to jointly release the names from 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas, "as part of ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse and promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Church."
"This is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston in a written statement. "Every bishop in our state has made a statement expressing his concern for all who have been hurt and I want to express my personal sorrow at such fundamental violations of trust that have happened," DiNardo said Wednesday. "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.”
DiNardo is in Rome but he recorded a video message about the historic decision:
WATCH: Cardinal DiNardo's message
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.
"What concerns me about the statement is they're saying, 'credible.' Credibly accused. Who determines credibility?" said Michael Norris with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or “SNAP.”
Norris says his own accusations of abuse were not deemed credible by the Church. Though after a criminal trial, his abuser was sent to prison. Norris worries a complete list of names will not be released.
"They're concerned that all the other states are doing their investigations,” Norris said. “They're raiding their offices. They don't want to be raised, so they're going to try to control what they release."
All dioceses will publish their lists by Jan. 31, 2019.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston is engaging an outside consultant to conduct an independent review of its files and records so that the list will be as accurate and complete as possible.
“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,” explained Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, of San Antonio. .
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.
The 15 dioceses participating in this project of disclosure are Galveston-Houston, San Antonio, Austin, Amarillo, Beaumont, Brownsville, Corpus Christi, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Laredo, Lubbock, San Angelo, Tyler and Victoria. Today’s statement from the bishops of Texas is included in separate attachment. Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston serves 1.7 million Catholics in 10 counties. It is the largest Roman Catholic diocese in Texas and the 5th largest in the United States.