DALLAS - Dallas Bishop Edward Burns will join other bishops in Texas in releasing the names of all priests who have been accused of child sex abuse since the 1950s.
According to the Diocese of Dallas, all 15 bishops in Texas have agreed to publish a list credibly accused clergy members before the end of January.
The Fort Worth Diocese already published a list. The Catholic Diocese of Dallas says it will make the names public after a thorough outside investigation.
Bishop Burns repeatedly stated that there are no current priests in any parish in the Dallas diocese that have been credibly accused of sexually abusing children. But when asked what might be revealed by the list, he said some may be surprised.
“You are going to see some of those names repeated,” he said. “I think there will be some names that will be a surprise to people.”
It’s an effort to show their ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse, as well as promote healing and the 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,” Bishop Burns said. “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.”
Bishop Burns said he also recognized that Catholics want this type of transparency and accountability.
“My brother bishops and I hope this action can be a step that leads to healing for all those who have been harmed by members of the Church,” he said. “I add my sincere sorrow for the pain that has been caused for victims and the Catholic faithful.”
The bishop held a service and town hall meeting Tuesday evening at Saint Cecilia in North Oak Cliff. A priest was accused in August of sexually abusing teenagers there a decade ago. The allegations were just brought to the church's attention in recent months. Edmundo Paredes has since disappeared and is believed to have fled to his native Philippines. Bishop Burns says private investigators hired by the diocese are still unable to locate him.
“We need to rebuild this church to work together as God’s people,” he told those in attendance. He also told them an outside agency is already looking at the files of every priest in the Diocese of Dallas.
Bishop Michael Olson from the Fort Worth Diocese not only has been publically naming priests who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse, but he also advised other churches on the best way to do it.
Eleven years ago, Olson says the diocese of Fort Worth wanted to show victims of sexual abuse in the church that it was listening. So it began posting names of priests on its website who were credibly accused of abusing minors.
"That it would assist people in healing who's been hurt, that they've been heard,” Olson said. “And also if there was anyone else out there who had been hurt to encourage them to come forward and get assistance and care."
To date, there are 17 names on its website. Fort Worth is among 43 Catholic dioceses across the country who are doing the same. Now, 14 dioceses from across Texas, including Dallas, will publicize a list and follows Fort Worth’s lead.
Before the churches made the decision to release the names, Olson gave them some advice.
"A strong recommendation I had to the Bishops is that when they do that, they choose a date and do it the same day so as to avoid victims of sexual abuse of any kind to be revictimized by it being in the news again and again and again."
The diocese encouraged anyone who has been sexually abused by clergy to contact local law enforcement, call the Texas Abuse Hotline at 1-800-252-5400 or visit www.tabusehotline.org.
Diocese of Dallas Victim Assistance Coordinator Barbara Landregan can also be reached at 214-379-2812.