SNAP Demands Transparency in Transfer of Msgr. Frank Rossi

Beaumont’s Catholic bishop let a priest into his diocese who had been accused of sexually exploiting a vulnerable adult parishioner for years. Now, he must fully and publicly disclose what steps he took in vetting the cleric prior to assigning him to a parish.

Bishop Curtis Guillory accepted a close aide of Houston’s Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, Msgr. Frank Rossi, into the Beaumont diocese. The bishop then put him to work in an East Texas parish. 

Yet a detailed Associated Press story, based in part on years of email exchanges, reveals that Msgr. Rossi reportedly manipulated and abused a devout married woman who he was counseling. In Texas and some other states, that is a crime. 

A recent story in a Catholic publication confirms that a formal complaint about Msgr. Rossi’s alleged abuse has been filed with the Vatican.

Back in 2002, when the US bishops gathered in Dallas, they adopted a purportedly binding national charter. This charter specifically prohibits bishops from ‘passing the trash’ by quietly moving abusive clerics into other dioceses.  

If Cardinal DiNardo did in fact deceive Bishop Guillory about Msgr. Rossi’s history and the reason for his transfer, then Bishop Guillory should denounce Cardinal DiNardo and make public any correspondence from Cardinal DiNardo regarding Msgr. Rossi. If not, Bishop Guillory must explain why he did not do his due diligence about Msgr. Rossi and why he chose to ignore the directives within the Dallas Charter and put his parishioners at risk.

Regardless of what is revealed publicly, Vatican officials should intervene. When Church officials ignore wrongdoing, they encourage wrongdoing. If Pope Francis wants his recently announced reforms to have any meaning, he needs to ensure that previous reforms are being taken seriously.

Pope Francis’ team should investigate what happened in this case and, if Cardinal DiNardo purposefully ignored the Dallas charter, then the Pope should remove him from his leadership position. Taking no action in this case would only further undermine Catholics’ confidence in their Church and would be an early sign that the internal reforms announced by the Vatican last month are meaningless.

 CONTACT: Zach Hiner, SNAP Executive Director (zhiner@snapnetwork.org, 517-974-9009)

(SNAP, the Survivors Network, has been providing support for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings for 30 years. We have more than 25,000 survivors and supporters in our network. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)


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