For immediate release: Nov. 12, 2013
Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo is the new vice-president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). We believe he’s a terrible choice.
Regarding the safety of children, his record in Sioux City was abysmal. His record in Houston shows no improvement.
As long as the Vatican continues to promote bishops who covered up clergy child sexual abuse, Catholics can expect more kids to be hurt and more sex crimes to be committed.
In 2008, we named DiNardo as one of the worst Cardinals in the US. Our view of him has not changed.
In November 2007, a victim reported having been sexually abused by Fr. Stephen Horn between 1989 and 1993. DiNardo found him credible and suspended Horn. The Cardinal, however, kept the allegation and his determination secret from parishioners, police and the public for two months, despite US bishops’ repeated pledges to act quickly and openly with credibly sex abuse allegations. Finally, in mid-January, DiNardo disclosed his action. (The delay gave Horn, a credibly accused molester, ample opportunity to fabricate alibis, destroy evidence, intimidate victims, threaten witnesses, or even flee the country, as some pedophile priests have done.)
Part of DiNardo’s secrecy and delay occurred in the weeks between when the Pope announced that DiNardo would be named a Cardinal (October 2007) and when DiNardo was promoted amid much pageantry (November 24). Some Houston Catholics have speculated that DiNardo didn’t want the news of Horn’s crimes to ‘rain on [DiNardo’s] parade.’
At the time, we wrote DiNardo, urging him to explain and apologize for his secrecy and to visit parishes where Horn worked and emphatically beg victims and witnesses to come forward, get help and call the police. He has not responded to either the letter or the request. As best we can tell, he never did.
Beginning in the 1990s (and likely longer), Sioux City church officials knew of repeated charges of child molestation against an admitted abuser, Fr. George B. McFadden (dating back into the 1960s). (DiNardo was Sioux City bishop starting in 1997.) For at least five years DiNardo had the chance to disclose McFadden's hurtful actions to police, prosecutors, parishioners, and the public, and to keep McFadden from other vulnerable children. He stayed silent.
According to the Des Moines Register, "The confessed child molester continued to hear confession and say mass daily over the past decade at the Cathedral of the Epiphany, Sioux City's largest Catholic church.)
McFadden, who remains a priest even now, is accused of abusing more than 25 girls and boys in dozens of civil lawsuits. Despite his alleged 'treatment' and 'retirement' in the 1990s, he continued to function as priest until 2002.