Head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops accused of ignoring abuse
For immediate release, Sept. 12, 2018
Statement by Michael Norris, Volunteer Houston SNAP Leader and Member of SNAP’s Board of Directors, 713-855-9178,SNAPmdnorris@hotmail.com
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been accused of ignoring allegations against a priest in his diocese. The clergyman, Father Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, was still assigned to a parish when he was arrested on Tuesday.
Once again, the actions of a high-ranking church official show that the Catholic Church cannot be trusted to police itself. It is particularly disheartening when the official is also the head of the Bishop’s Conference. We urge the Texas Attorney General, Ken Paxton, to follow the example of Pennsylvania and open an investigation into all the Catholic dioceses within the state. We encourage everyone in the state of Texas who shares our concerns to write to Mr. Paxton and add your voice to ours.
According to the report from the Associated Press, the Archdiocese of Houston was told by two different people that Father LaRosa-Lopez had sexually assaulted them when they were teenagers. The male victim reported his abuse last year, and met with the Cardinal last month. The family of the female victim alerted the archdiocese in 2001, and she contacted them again in 2010, when she discovered the priest was still in ministry.
We simply do not understand this callous disregard for the safety of children by Cardinal DiNardo and other Houston Church officials. In 2002 the Catholic bishops promised “zero tolerance” for abusers, yet in 2018 a priest with not one, but two, accusations against him was allowed to function as a clergyman, and was also the Cardinal’s episcopal vicar for Hispanics.
On Sunday in front of the Houston Cathedral, SNAP raised concerns about two other clergyman with accusations against them who remain in ministry, Father John Keller and Father Terry Brinkman. Both men are included on the database maintained by the Catholic watchdog group, BishopAccountability.
Enough is enough. If the Catholic Church will not be responsible for protecting the young people entrusted to them by faithful parishioners, it is up to the government to step in and make sure that children are safe. We implore people of good will in Texas to write to AG Paxton and demand that he investigate.
If you have been abused in the Archdiocese of Houston or anywhere else, please do not suffer alone and in silence. Make a report to law enforcement, no matter how long ago the crime occurred, and reach out to groups like ours for community and support.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network, is the world's oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings. SNAP was founded in 1988 and has more than 25,000 supporters. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact - Michael Norris (713-855-9178, SNAPmdnorris@hotmail.com), Tim Lennon (415-312-5820, tlennon@SNAPnetwork.org), Becky Ianni (703-801-6044, firstname.lastname@example.org)
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
The Attorneys General of forty states have inquired about the grand jury process in Pennsylvania. Let's get statewide investigations going in fifty states.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.