Three people have accused the U.S. cardinal leading the response to the Catholic Church’s abuse crisis of covering up sexual abuse in Houston.
Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, stands accused of ignoring allegations that Houston area priest Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez sexually abused children. Adam Dinnell, attorney for the unnamed third accuser, said Thursday that La Rosa-Lopez allegedly fondled the accuser four to five times in the mid-1990s when the accuser was an altar boy. (RELATED: US Catholics’ Confidence In Pope Francis Dropping Swiftly Over Response To Sex Abuse Crisis)
Authorities arrested La Rosa-Lopez in September on four counts of indecency with a child. The first two individuals said that when they first reported that La Rosa-Lopez had abused them as teenagers, they met directly with DiNardo, who came to Houston in 2004. The cardinal allegedly brushed them off, according to the accusers.
Dinnell said the third accuser’s family similarly reported La Rosa-Lopez’s abusive actions to a different priest, but were also not taken seriously. The third accuser decided to speak with the police after hearing of La Rosa-Lopez’s arrest.
“This is not someone who wants to bring down the Church,” Dinnell said, according to The Associated Press. “It’s more that as a practicing Catholic, he wants reform. He doesn’t want officials to just stand up and say, ‘This doesn’t happen in Houston,’ because it has.”
DiNardo has repeatedly advocated for investigations into and efforts to prevent child sexual abuse in the American church, most recently with regard to former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who allegedly abused several young seminarians and teenage boys.
DiNardo led a four man delegation to meet with Pope Francis in September to request an investigation into the circumstances surrounding McCarrick’s rise in ecclesiastical rank amid the allegations against him as well as an investigation into allegations that Francis and other officials actively covered for McCarrick. Thus far neither the Vatican nor Dinardo have released details or clarifications from that meeting.
The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, with regard to La Rosa-Lopez, said that it “deeply regrets such a fundamental violation of trust” and “commits itself to eliminating such unacceptable actions.”
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