Serving the Church in Texas

Preventing the Sexual Abuse of Minors: A Statement of the Texas Catholic Conference of Bishops

Oct. 10, 2018

We are deeply sorry that some Church leaders have, at times, failed in their responsibility to protect minors. The Catholic Church throughout the United States has worked to improve protection, especially over the last fifteen years. We will remain vigilant to provide an even safer environment for every child we serve.

The Catholic Church in Texas is committed to the prevention of sexual abuse of minors by those who are in ministry in the Church and to promote healing for survivors of abuse.  Each diocese has comprehensive policies in place both to respond to complaints and to prevent the sexual abuse of minors.  These safety policies and practices are regularly verified by an external audit of each diocese.

PREVENTION OF ABUSE

  • Safe Environment: All Texas dioceses have implemented comprehensive “safe environment” education programs and have together trained many of the 8.5 million Catholics in the state -- adults, minors, employees, clergy, and volunteers -- on how to identify, report, and help prevent abuse. Prior to his anticipated ministry, every priest seeking to minister in a diocese is to present a written attestation of suitability supplied by his bishop/religious superior.
  • Background Checks: The dioceses conduct background evaluations for all bishops, priests, deacons, and religious, as well as other diocesan, parish, and school personnel who have regular contact with minors.  Since 2002, criminal background checks have been completed regularly on volunteers, employees, and clergy who are involved in ministry in the Church.

RESPONSE TO ALLEGATIONS OF ABUSE

  • Reporting to Civil Authorities: All of the Texas Catholic dioceses have policies to report to civil authorities whenever there is cause to believe that a minor has been sexually abused.
  • Removal from Ministry: Diocesan policies provide that a bishop, priest, deacon, or religious who has been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor will be removed from ministry.

HEALING OF SURVIVORS

  • Therapeutic and Pastoral Response: Each diocese has a Victim Assistance Coordinator, who facilitates the provision of counseling and other professional assistance to help those who report they were sexually abused as a minor. In addition, all victims of childhood sexual abuse by a minister of the Church have the opportunity to meet with the bishop in order to facilitate healing.

PUBLICATION OF NAMES

  • Dioceses to Publish Local Lists: Texas dioceses are actively reviewing files of bishops, priests, and deacons. By January 31, 2019, each bishop will publish a list of clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse of a minor in his diocese dating back to at least 1950.
  • How to Report: Visit http://txcatholic.org/how-to-report for information on reporting abuse.