DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) — Bishop Edward J. Burns said the Catholic Diocese of Dallas will release the names of all clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of minors in his diocese dating back to 1950 through today.
In doing so, he joins the bishops of the 14 other Catholic dioceses in Texas and the Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter in taking the action.READ MORE: US Ramps Up Plan To Expel Thousands Of Haitian Migrants Gathered In Texas
The Texas bishops made the decision on September 30, 2018, to release the lists of names 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.
“Opening our files to outside investigators and releasing the names is something I have been considering for some time. Since I believe it is the right thing to do, the Diocese of Dallas has had outside investigators, a team made up of former FBI, state troopers and other experts in law enforcement, examining our files since February, and they still have work to do,” said Burns. “My brother bishops and I recognize that this type of transparency and accountability is what the Catholic faithful want and need.”
The bishops said that 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 January 31, 2019.
The lists will be updated as new information becomes available.READ MORE: Cecile Richards: Supreme Court's Inaction On Texas Abortion Law Could Mean End Of Roe
Burns said during an announcement Tuesday that the investigation began in February and is meant to ensure a safe environment for parishioners. The team will investigate any accusation against a priest, not just ones relating to sexual abuse of minors.
A diocese spokeswoman told The Dallas Morning News the review will focus on the 220 priests active in the diocese, but could be expanded to include those who previously served.
The investigation comes after Burns in August revealed a former pastor, Edmundo Paredes, was accused of abusing three boys more than a decade ago at St. Celia’s Church. The now adult men made credible accusations of sexual assault when they were in their mid-teens.
The Dallas Diocese said Paredes was first suspended and removed from ministry in June 2017 after financial irregularities were discovered at the church.
He has not been heard from since about March.MORE NEWS: 'Kids Aren't That Careful At School': Teen Twins Get Vaccinated At Fair Park
Anyone who has been sexually abused by clergy is encouraged to contact local law enforcement or call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1.800.252.5400 or visit tabusehotline.org and the Diocese of Dallas Victim Assistance Coordinator, Barbara Landregan, at 214.379.2812.