Fort Worth

Catholic dioceses in Texas will release names of known child abusers within the clergy

Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Olson says “we should not be fooled into thinking that this law, in any way, resolves the complicated problems of our immigration system.”
Fort Worth Catholic Diocese Bishop Michael Olson says “we should not be fooled into thinking that this law, in any way, resolves the complicated problems of our immigration system.” Star-Telegram archives

The 15 Catholic dioceses in Texas will release the names of clergy who have been “credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor,” the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops said in a news release Wednesday.

The list will include names going back to 1950, according to the news release. The Fort Worth Catholic Diocese had already released a similar list, which names credibly accused clergy dating to 2007.

“Every clergy that has been credibly accused is on the list and we know of no other clergy abuse case,” spokesperson Pat Svacina said Wednesday.

The list, he said, is always updated. For instance, last week a retired deacon in Wichita Falls pleaded guilty to sexual abuse of a minor. Svacina said the abuse had nothing to do with the church.

“Because he now is convicted of sexual misconduct of a minor his name was added this week to the list. He is Russell Detwiler,” Svacina said in an email to the Star-Telegram.

The decision to release the names statewide was made on Sept. 30 in the context of the church’s “ongoing work to protect children from sexual abuse, and their efforts to promote healing and a restoration of trust in the Catholic Church.”

All other dioceses will publish their lists by Jan. 31, 2019.

“To be clear, the Fort Worth diocese has been publishing the names of credible accused clergy for 13 years and it will publish any new names as soon as credible allegations are established, if such an accusation should come up,” Svacina said. “Because we have been publishing we are not waiting until January to add any new names, should someone have credible allegations established.”

In Dallas, Bishop Edward J. Burns said “releasing the names is something I have been considering for some time. Since I believe it is the right thing to do, the Diocese of Dallas has had outside investigators, a team made up of former FBI, state troopers and other experts in law enforcement, examining our files since February, and they still have work to do,” he said in a release.

Archbishop Gustavo García-Siller, MSpS, archbishop of San Antonio, said, “It will take some time for files to be reviewed, and there may be people who come forward with new information following this announcement.

“My brother bishops in Texas and I agree that transparency in this painful matter of sexual abuse can assist with healing for survivors and transformation for our Church,” he added.

Fort Worth Bishop Michael Olson released a letter saying that the diocese is “committed to eradicating the evil of sexual abuse of minors.”

“The protection of our children is a moral obligation and is of paramount importance to the Diocese of Fort Worth,” he wrote. “The Diocese of Fort Worth has taken and will continue to take affirmative steps to ensure the safety of our children.”

The diocese first publicly identified priests who were the subjects “of credible allegations of sexual abuse of a minor” in 2005. In 2007, it became the first diocese in Texas to include a list on its website, which Olson said is part of his commitment to transparency.

“The individuals identified on this list who were ordained for the Diocese of Fort Worth or who were incardinated into the Diocese of Fort Worth will never return to active ministry,” the list says.

The list names: James Fitzpatrick, James Hanlon, William Hoover, Philip Magaldi, Gilbert Pansza, James Reilly, Rudolph Renteria and Gerald Scholl, Thomas Teczar, Henry Herrera, James Howlett, Bede Mitchel, Joseph Tu Nguyen, William Paiz, Francis A. Zimmerer, Russell William Detwiler and Tony Pistone.

The list was last updated on Monday. Information on the men on the list can be found here: fwdioc.org/list-of-clergy-with-credible-allegations.pdf

Olson added that the news of other Catholic bishops in Texas releasing the names is encouraging.

“I am supporting of this collegial action taken by the members of the Texas Catholic Conference,” he wrote.

Bishop Michael Olson of the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth led the annual Good Friday Rosary Vigil For Life on the sidewalks at a Planned Parenthood location in southwest Fort Worth.

Father Richard Kirkham also violated the Diocese safe environment policy on reporting allegations of sexual abuse or misconduct, according to Bishop Michael Olson.

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