(Sept. 17, 2018) A Houston protest at a Catholic church was attended by about a dozen people on Sunday last week. The Houston Chronicle reported that protesters handed out flyers at Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart downtown. Their goal was to call attention to the church’s systemic child sex abuse problem. The protesters were prompted anew following abuse by clergy reports that came from a Pennsylvania grand jury last month.
The protesters called on the Catholic Church to address abuse by clergy that was revealed in the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report.
Protect Our Children!
Churchgoers who left 9 a.m. mass were met with signs that read, “Protect our Children!” and “Speak Up, Speak to Police, Speak Out!”
The protest was led by SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
“What we’re asking for is transparency,” said Michael Norris, leader of the Houston chapter.
Related: Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit
A survivor of sexual assault by a priest in Louisville, Kentucky, Mr. Norris is also asking for Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to investigate the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. He is asking for the removal of two diocesan priests who have been accused of sexual abuse.
“You will find the same filth that we found in Pennsylvania right here in Houston, Texas,” Mr. Norris told the Houston Chronicle.
Julie Rhoades, an attorney with Matthews and Associates, has represented survivors of sexual abuse by priests. She said her boss encouraged her and other lawyers at the firm to attend and advocate to raise awareness.
“It’s heartbreaking,” she told the Chronicle. “I had my first cases back in the late 2000s. It doesn’t seem like things have changed much since then. (I) thought things were better. And then you hear one more scandal breaks after another.”
Cardinal DiNardo under fire from Texas’ Catholic Victims
In a Texas Catholic Herald article dated Sept. 11, Archbishop of Galveston-Houston Daniel Cardinal DiNardo wrote that he shares the anger and rage felt by survivors. He asked for prayers to bring accountability to the church. He admitted failure, writing, “I realize in spite of the progress made in 2002 that we, the bishops of the United States, have failed you,” he said. “We can and must do better.”
But recent charges against a priest in Cardinal DiNardo’s jurisdiction suggest that he himself also may have failed to protect parishioners from an accused pedophile priest.
Houston Protest at Catholic Church
Cardinal DiNardo, who is leading a delegation to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis to discuss the church’s pedophile abuse crisis, has been accused by two Texans of not doing enough to stop a Houston-area priest who was arrested last week on sexual abuse charges.
Manuel LaRosa-Lopez was arrested last week by Conroe police. He stands accused of fondling two people when they were underage teenagers while he was a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe. He is charged with four counts of indecency with a child. Each count carries a maximum possible sentence of 20 years in prison.
Mr. LaRosa-Lopez is the current pastor at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond, and also the archdiocese’s episcopal vicar for Hispanics.
One of the alleged victims was flown by the church from the West Coast to Houston to meet with Cardinal DiNardo and the victims’ assistance coordinator for the archdiocese. They met at the archdiocese on the afternoon of Aug. 10, 2018.
The alleged victim shared with the Associated Press a copy of the notes he took.
Cardinal seemed Dismissive
“Cardinal seemed dismissive of situation,” the alleged victim’s notes read. He also wrote down what he says is a quote from DiNardo: “You should have told us sooner.”
“It was a dismissive tone,” he recalled. “In the back of my head, I was thinking about his comment. I was so mad afterward.”
Both said they had believed their cases were too old to prosecute under statute of limitations laws. But in 2007, the Texas Legislature removed the statute of limitations for indecency with a child cases. Montgomery County prosecutors say that change means their cases remain eligible to be prosecuted now.
SNAP has called for the Texas attorney general to investigate the Houston archdiocese and others for whether they covered up sexual abuse in their ranks.
- Texas Priest faces Sexual Abuse Charges
- Abuse by Clergy Lawsuit
- Pennsylvania Priest Abuse Lawsuit
- Priest Abuse Attorney Julie Rhoades
- Houston Protest at Catholic Church