San Angelo Catholic Diocese Joins 14 Texas Dioceses in Releasing Names of Clergy Accused of Abusing MinorsPress Release
SAN ANGELO, TX — The 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter made the decision on Sept. 30 to release names of clergy who have been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor, going back at least to 1950.
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. Bishop Michael Sis of the Diocese of San Angelo has released the following statement:
“The release of these names is an expression of accountability in our ongoing attempt to create a safe environment for all. Child sexual abuse is a crime against God and humanity. When carried out by a representative of the Church, it is especially troubling, and it can cause deep emotional and spiritual wounds.
“I offer my apology to anyone who has been hurt by any person affiliated with the Catholic Church, as well as for any time that any minister of the Church has failed to live up to Christ’s call to authentic holiness of life. I pledge to continue doing everything I can to safeguard the people of this diocese.
“Ongoing training and vigilance are essential to this project. I expect anyone who serves in any ministry of the Church in the Diocese of San Angelo to know and follow diligently our policy of Ethics and Integrity in Ministry. Since 2002, we have conducted background checks on 14,223 individuals and have had 10,522 people attend an Ethics and Integrity in Ministry workshop. “I am committed to create a healthy environment, to fully investigate all allegations that are brought forward, to take necessary corrective actions to remove perpetrators from ministry, and to help victims find healing.”
“This is an action in response to the faithful’s call for greater accountability and transparency,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston. "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. 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.”
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. All dioceses will publish their lists by Jan. 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,” explained Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, archbishop 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 full statement of the bishops of Texas includes information on this work, and follows.
By law, suspicions of child sexual abuse must be reported to civil authorities. The Texas Department of Family and Protective Services provides a secure website — https://www.txabusehotline.org — for reporting suspicions of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. This website is intended for reporting situations that do not need to be investigated right away. It may take more than 48 hours to process online reports. In cases where it seems that a person is in immediate danger, call the Texas hotline, 1-800-252-5400, or 911.
Please report any allegation of child sexual abuse committed by any volunteer or employee of the Diocese of San Angelo to the Victim Assistance Coordinator of the Diocese of San Angelo, Lori Hines, at 325- 374-7609 or at [email protected], so that we can help protect others by removing offenders from ministry and offer healing to those who have suffered abuse. Her number is always available at all of our parish offices and on our diocesan website, as well as in every edition of the West Texas Angelus newspaper.
The Roman Catholic Diocese of San Angelo serves the faithful in 29 West Texas counties under the leadership of Bishop Michael J. Sis.
The following was submitted by the Diocese of San Angelo:
Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Minors
We are deeply sorry that some Church leaders have, at times, failed in their responsibility to protect minors. The Catholic Church throughout the United States has worked to improve protection, especially over the last fifteen years. We will remain vigilant to provide an even safer environment for every child we serve.
The Catholic Church in Texas is committed to the prevention of sexual abuse of minors by those who are in ministry in the Church and to promote healing for survivors of abuse. Each diocese has comprehensive policies in place both to respond to complaints and to prevent the sexual abuse of minors. These safety policies and practices are regularly verified by an external audit of each diocese.
Steps Taken Towards the Prevention of Abuse:
Safe Environment: All Texas dioceses have implemented comprehensive “safe environment” education programs and have together trained many of the 8.5 million Catholics in the state -- adults, minors, employees, clergy, and volunteers -- on how to identify, report, and help prevent abuse. Prior to his anticipated ministry, every priest seeking to minister in a diocese is to present a written attestation of suitability supplied by his bishop/religious superior.
Background Checks: The dioceses conduct background evaluations for all bishops, priests, deacons, and religious, as well as other diocesan, parish, and school personnel who have regular contact with minors. Since 2002, criminal background checks have been completed regularly on volunteers, employees, and clergy who are involved in ministry in the Church.
RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE
Reporting to Civil Authorities: All of the Texas Catholic dioceses have policies to report to civil authorities whenever there is cause to believe that a minor has been sexually abused. Removal from Ministry: Diocesan policies provide that a bishop, priest, deacon, or religious who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor will be removed from ministry.
HEALING OF SURVIVORS
Therapeutic and Pastoral Response: Each diocese has a Victim Assistance Coordinator, who facilitates the provision of counseling and other professional assistance to help those who report they were sexually abused as a minor. In addition, all victims of childhood sexual abuse by a minister of the Church have the opportunity to meet with the bishop in order to facilitate healing.
PUBLICATION OF NAMES
Dioceses to Publish Local Lists: Texas dioceses are actively reviewing files of bishops, priests, and deacons. By January 31, 2019, each bishop will publish a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor in his diocese dating back to at least 1950. How to Report: Visit http://txcatholic.org/how-to-report for information on reporting abuse.