A Texas priest turned up missing amid an investigation into allegations that he molested three teenage boys and stole money from his church.
Bishop Edward Burns of Dallas, Texas, said Rev. Edmundo Paredes fled the diocese and that while his whereabouts have not been confirmed, church officials said he might have returned to his native Philippines. Church officials said the allegations that Paredes molested three teenage boys over 10 years ago have been proven credible. (RELATED: Conservative Catholics Call For Purge Of Gay Priests In Light Of Sexual Abuse Scandals)
Burns said he is dedicated to addressing the situation openly and honestly before parishioners.
“I need to come face to face with the frustration. I need to come face to face with this issue, with the anger, with the rage. I recognize this diocese cannot cover its ears, its eyes, its mouth. We need to look at this head on,” Burns told congregants on Sunday, according to Dallas News.
Church officials received the allegations of sexual abuse against Paredes during an investigation into his financial misconduct. The investigation began May 2017 after Paredes was accused of stealing between $60,000 to $80,000 in cash from St. Cecilia’s Catholic Church in Oak Cliff. Burns said Paredes admitted to the theft and that church leadership removed him from ministry in June 2017, although the investigation continued. Paredes disappeared shortly after his suspension from ministry.
A spokeswoman for the diocese of Dallas told Dallas News that church officials were unaware of Paredes’s sexual misconduct when they suspended him. Church officials said they contacted Dallas police immediately after receiving the allegations.
Burns also said the church will hire private investigators to track down Paredes, according to The Associated Press.
Rev. Martin Moreno, pastor of St. Cecilia’s, pledged to protect his congregation and declared that Paredes was not representative of Catholic clergy in Dallas.
“I love you. I love you very much, and I will do anything to protect you like a parent does his children. I am willing to do anything I can with my own life to protect you,” Moreno said. “The actions of one person do not represent the entire clergy of Dallas.”
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