A public funeral for Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza rubs salt into the wounds of local victims
(For Immediate Release: Wednesday, September 28, 2022)
Survivors cannot forget the Archbishop’s poor handling of sexual abuse allegations against clergy
Thursday, September 29, 2022, 1:00pm
On the public sidewalk outside the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, 1111 St. Joseph Parkway, Houston, Texas
Several members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, victims of abuse from other Texas institutions, and supporters
At a sidewalk news conference in front of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, survivors, and supporters will remind the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston that a public funeral with full honors for Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza rubs salt into the already painful wounds of those who suffered clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese. Archbishop Fiorenza disregarded and minimized some of the worst crimes of sexual assault committed against children when he was at the helm of the Archdiocese.
Survivors of clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston are appalled that Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza is being given a public funeral with full honors. The victims say that the Archbishop covered up clergy sex crimes during his tenure as leader of the Archdiocese and that this rite rubs salt into their already painful wounds.
For instance, in 1992 Archbishop Fiorenza sent Father Manuel La Rosa Lopez for “examination” following a young boy’s accusation of sexual abuse. Under the Archbishop's watch, Father Lopez was returned to ministry the following year and worked for another 26 years. The priest was finally convicted and sentenced to prison in 2020. As far as SNAP can tell, Father Lopez has yet to be defrocked.
In another mishandled case, in 2003, the Archbishop wrote to a victim of Father John Keller saying the priest denied the abuse “but acknowledged he ‘crossed a proper boundary by holding you in a manner inappropriate for a priest.’" Years later, the Archdiocese turned over two complaints against the priest to law enforcement. After being allowed by Archbishop Fiorenza to continue in ministry for another 16 years, Father Keller has not been returned to ministry since the two complaints were turned over to Houston police in 2019.
Eduardo Lopez de Casas, SNAP Houston and Board Member ([email protected], 832-641-6319), Mike McDonnell, Communications Manager ([email protected], 267-261-0578) Zach Hiner, Executive Director ([email protected], 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)