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Catholic leaders name hundreds 'credibly accused' of abuse

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Catholic leaders in Texas have identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children, one of the largest lists of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania.

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Fourteen dioceses in Texas named those credibly accused of abuse.

The only diocese not to provide names, Fort Worth, did so more than a decade ago and then provided an updated accounting in October.

There are only a handful of states where every diocese has released names and most of them have only one or two Catholic districts.

Arkansas, for instance, is covered by the Diocese of Little Rock, which in September provided a preliminary list of 12 former priests, deacons and others.

Oklahoma has two districts: The Archdiocese of Oklahoma City is scheduled to publicly identify accused priests on February 28 and the Diocese of Tulsa previously named two former priests accused of predatory behaviour.

The move by Texas church leaders follows a shocking Pennsylvania report in August detailing seven decades of child sexual abuse by more than 300 predator priests. Furthermore, the Illinois attorney general reported last month that at least 500 Catholic clergy in that state had sexually abused children.

In the months after that report, about 50 dioceses and religious provinces have released the names of nearly 1250 priests and others accused of abuse. Approximately 60 per cent of them have died. About 30 other dioceses are investigating or have promised to release names of credibly accused priests in the coming months.

In Texas, the Diocese of Dallas and some others relied on retired police and federal investigators to review church files and other material to substantiate claims of abuse. It’s not clear whether any of the names released could result in local prosecutors bringing criminal charges.

Of the 286 men named in Texas, 172 have died.

“Our office stands ready to assist local law enforcement and any district attorney’s office that asks for our help in dismantling this form of evil and removing the threat of those who threaten Texas children,” said Marc Rylander, spokesman for the Texas attorney general’s office.

The head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who is also president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, said the Bishops of Texas had decided to release the names because it was “right and just” and offered healing and hope to those who had suffered.

“On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it.”

– AP

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