The Roman Catholic Church in Texas on Thursday released the names of almost 300 priests who it said had been credibly accused of child sex abuse over nearly eight decades.
The action was the latest in a wave of disclosures by the church as it faces a series of federal and state investigations into its handling of sexual misconduct.
The names were posted online by all 15 of the state’s dioceses and followed the publication in August of a bombshell report on clerical sex abuse by the Pennsylvania attorney general that has spurred investigations of the church in more than a dozen other states.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, the Archbishop of Galveston-Houston and the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement on Thursday that releasing the names of the accused was the right thing to do.
“The bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered,” the cardinal said. “On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it.”
There are an estimated 8.5 million Catholics in Texas, according to the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops, making it one of the most heavily Catholic states in the country. The church there has been in a state of crisis since dozens of local and federal agents raided the offices of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston in November as part of an investigation into a sexual abuse case.
Since the release of the Pennsylvania report, which detailed seven decades of alleged abuse by over 300 priests there, dozens of dioceses and religious provinces across the country have published the names of alleged abusers. More than a dozen states have also opened investigations into the church, although Texas is not among them.
On Thursday, Marc Rylander, a spokesman for Texas’ attorney general, Ken Paxton, said his office was prepared to respond to any request for assistance by local and federal law enforcement agencies.
“We have not received any such requests, but we are ready to provide assistance to local prosecutors in accordance with state law and original criminal jurisdiction,” Mr. Rylander said in an email. “No young person should ever live in fear of abuse, especially abuse from religious and spiritual leaders.”
The lists published on Thursday were prepared separately by each diocese, and each one takes a slightly different form. Many of the names dated to the middle of the 20th century — some dioceses began their reviews at 1940 and others at 1950 — and many, but not all, of the clerics listed have died. Some have resulted in prosecution.
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SOURCE: The New York Times, Liam Stack