By Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer
All 15 dioceses, which are Catholic districts under the pastoral care of a bishop, in Texas will release their lists of credible accusations of sexual abuse of minors by clergymen in January.
The hope is that victims who have not come forward have time to do so, according to KENS 5, a local TV news station in San Antonio where the Archbishop is located.
“We have to address this horrible sin of sexual abuse of minors. I cannot adequately express my sorrow for the survivors of clergy sexual abuse. There are no words that can undo the wrong that was perpetrated upon them,” Garcia-Siller said.
The Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops say releasing the names is an important step in restoring the public’s trust. According to KENS 5, the message from the Archbishop in San Antonio is honesty and transparency. The Archbishop formed a commission to review the way accusations are handled going back in files to the year 1940.
The Conference of Bishops decided to release the names of known abusers of minors statewide on Sept. 30 according to the Star Telegram. The Fort Worth Diocese released a similar list in 2007 including names of priests who were credibly accused dating back to that time, which is consistently updated as allegations arise. The Archbishop of Texas believes the church should have been open about this a long time ago, and that the actions of today will regain the trust of the faithful.
Houston freshman Sam Bernardy grew up in the Catholic church and finds it difficult to portray herself a proud Catholic in a society that’s dominated by the scandal. While she is glad victims are finally being heard, she said she wishes the world paid more attention to those who are faithful to their commitment to the Lord and the congregation.
“[The actions of the Catholic church in Texas] are responsible and show a lot about the words they’ve been putting out against abuse and those behaviors,” Bernardy said. “It shows a lot that they’re willing to take responsibility, and that they truly want to support victims. I think that’s commendable.”
More specifically, while Bernardy takes pride in her upbringing and loves the people in her church, she is having a hard time trying to communicate to the world when all society sees of Catholicism is the world-wide crisis.
“It’s obviously not something I’m proud of — being associated with the ugly side of this tragedy in the world,” said Bernardy. “I think abuse and standing up against it is not just happening in the church but also outside it. It upsets me that people outside of the Catholic church hearing the allegations take that perspective of the church.”
According to Bernardy, the clergymen who have broken their vows and their trust with the congregation have taken a double hit against the church. They have committed an atrocious sin and also hurt the church and its image, Bernardy said. Bernardy said she still loves the church and there are still thousands of clergy who uphold their vows and have faith in the church.
Baylor graduate, Alison Heefner, said she grew up in Protestant Bible-Belt culture with Catholic family.
“I think if the Catholic church is willing to put these names forward to change the culture toward transparency, it will be beneficial in the long-term, but I’m not sure how long in the short-term it will take for the tension and the darkness people feel [about the scandal] to pass away,” Heefner said.