Bishops In Texas Say They Will Reveal The Names Of Clergy Accused Of Abuse
The Diocese of Austin says it will release the names of clergy who have been accused of molestation.
In a statement this afternoon, Austin Bishop Joe Vásquez announced his diocese's decision to release the names of clergy accused of abuse as far back as 1950. He joined the bishops of the 15 other Texas dioceses in announcing they will identify priests with "credible" accusations by Jan. 31.
"Our hope was, by releasing names, we will contribute to healing and restoring trust," Vásquez told KUT.
Vásquez says the diocese will use a third party to help verify claims against clergy and determine if the accused should be reported to authorities.
"We hope that victims will indeed come forward," he said. "This is their opportunity to ... say what they have to say. So it's a reaching out for help, and the church needs to respond."
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops also outlined a plan to bolster prevention and response efforts in cases of suspected abuse across 1,320 parishes statewide.
“It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement," Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller of San Antonio said in a statement. "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 church's decision comes after new headlines this summer revealed a widespread pattern of abuse in the United States, including a report that detailed abuse of more than 1,000 children stretching as far back as 80 years.
In Rome, Pope Francis faces internal criticism from bishops – as well as allegations of covering up abuse claims – and declining confidence among U.S. Catholics.
Trey Shaar contributed to this report.