Cardinal meeting with Pope Francis accused of ignoring abuse

FILE - In this Nov. 15, 2016, file photo, Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, the newly-elected president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, speaks at a news conference at the USCCB's annual fall meeting in Baltimore. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)  

HOUSTON (AP) — As U.S. Catholic leaders head to the Vatican to meet with Pope Francis about a growing church abuse crisis, the cardinal leading the delegation has been accused by two people of not doing enough to stop a priest who was arrested this week on sexual abuse charges.

The two people told The Associated Press that they reported the priest and met with Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston. One of them says she was promised in a meeting with DiNardo, several years after she first reported abuse, that the priest would be removed from any contact with children, only to discover that the priest remained in active ministry at another parish 70 miles away.

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The priest, Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, was arrested Tuesday by police in Conroe, Texas. Both people who spoke to the AP are cooperating with police.

LaRosa-Lopez, 60, is accused of fondling both people when they were teenagers and 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.

LaRosa-Lopez is now the pastor at St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond. He is also the archdiocese's episcopal vicar for Hispanics.

The archdiocese issued a statement Wednesday confirming that both people had come forward to report abuse by LaRosa-Lopez, one of them in 2001. The archdiocese said it reported both allegations to the state Child Protective Services, and said it was unaware of any other "allegations of inappropriate conduct involving minors" against the priest. A spokesman for CPS on Wednesday could not immediately confirm if the reports had been made. LaRosa-Lopez did not immediately return a phone message left Wednesday.

"To anyone affected by any form of abuse by anyone who represents the Church, the Archdiocese deeply regrets such a fundamental violation of trust, and commits itself to eliminating such unacceptable actions," the archdiocese said.

In addition to his responsibilities in Houston, DiNardo is head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, a position that has made him a prominent figure in the church's response to a new wave of allegations that Catholic leaders covered up sexual abuse. He is meeting with Pope Francis on Thursday at the Vatican.

Both accusers who say they went to DiNardo are now in their 30s. The Associated Press typically does not identify victims in sexual abuse cases, and both people asked that their names be withheld.

One was flown by the church from the West Coast to Houston to meet with DiNardo and the victims' assistance coordinator for the archdiocese. They met at the archdiocese on the afternoon of Aug. 10.

He wrote down notes from the meeting quickly after leaving, and shared a copy of the notes with AP.

"Cardinal seemed dismissive of situation," the 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 would be too old to prosecute under statute of limitations laws. But the Texas Legislature in 2007 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.

The group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or 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.

"DiNardo needs to come clean on what he knows," said Michael Norris, a member of SNAP.

Both victims say they were teenagers when LaRosa-Lopez tried to befriend them over a period before initiating physical contact.

Both victims say they were teenagers when LaRosa-Lopez tried to befriend them over a period before initiating physical contact.

The male victim said he became interested as a teenager in joining the clergy and going to seminary. He started to attend Mass and got to know LaRosa-Lopez. Eventually, he got a job where he worked nights at Sacred Heart as an assistant.

He remembered LaRosa-Lopez being known as "touchy-feely," and that the priest's contact with him became more physical over time: first touching on the arm, then hugging, then a kiss on the cheek.

One night, he said, the priest showed him pictures of young seminarians that "he had a lot of fun with," and tried to take the teenager's clothes off and put his hands down his pants. He pushed back and quickly left the residence. He said he reported the incident to church authorities last year. The archdiocese said Wednesday it was "formally presented" with the allegation in August.

The female accuser said LaRosa-Lopez befriended her during her weekly confession at Sacred Heart. "He basically was my only friend," she said.

The female victim declined to detail what LaRosa-Lopez did, saying only that he touched her inappropriately shortly before Easter, after she had turned 16.

She says her father found out what had happened and the family reported it to the church. Church officials told her that LaRosa-Lopez would be moved.

The archdiocese confirmed Wednesday that LaRosa-Lopez was re-assigned in 2001 to another church, St. Francis de Sales, and then moved in 2004 to St. John Fisher, his current assignment. It would not confirm he was moved due to an abuse complaint.

She eventually resumed going to her church with LaRosa-Lopez transferred to a new location.

But in 2010, she saw a copy of the archdiocese's internal newsletter, which announced LaRosa-Lopez's appointment as vicar of Hispanic ministry. She thought there was a chance DiNardo didn't know about her complaint because it had predated his time in Houston.

She contacted the church and started to meet with a therapist paid for by the archdiocese. Eventually, she met with DiNardo and other top clergy in the diocese. She says they told her that after she had come forward, LaRosa-Lopez was sent to a hospital for psychiatric treatment twice and that would no longer be allowed to work with children.

Then LaRosa-Lopez was brought in for about 10 minutes, she confronted him about the abuse and he apologized.

She says she later discovered that LaRosa-Lopez remained at St. John Fisher, in the presence of children.

Of DiNardo, the woman said, "I'm tired of all of his empty words."

"If he's going to go meet with the Pope and pretend that all of this is OK and his diocese is clean, I can't stand it," she said. "I can't be quiet."

Of DiNardo, the woman said, "I'm tired of all of his empty words."

The Associated Press asked Tuesday to interview DiNardo and other top leaders at the archdiocese. It also submitted a list of questions about both victims' allegations.

A spokesman for the archdiocese declined the interview requests or to address specific allegations about what DiNardo told the victims.

LaRosa-Lopez was not present at Mass in St. John Fisher on Saturday night or Sunday. A reporter who visited both days saw that a parking spot, marked with a sign reserving the space for "Father Manuel," was empty.

Parishioners were told on Sunday morning Mass that LaRosa-Lopez was "at a retreat."

J Brookbank
6 days 12 hours ago

Thank you for publishing this immediately.

Next story to post: another priest arrested today for sexual abuse of a GIRL, 8 or 9 years old in 2006 when the priest lived in her family's home.

And the one in Washington Post that explains seminarians' very clear understandings of how the doors to the castle are opened ----- which means that God is not the one opening these doors.

I know people are going to focus on homosexuality. If they are willing to be honest, when they start down that path, they will read this article with a male priest-predator whose victims were female and male; then the WaPo article where the male bishop-predator whose victims were male children and adults; then about the Boston male priest-predator whose victim was a 8 or 9 year old girl.

I yanked Tim O'Leary's tail the other day and said the only 100% consistent characteristics of Catholic predator-priests is that they are Catholic and male and priests.

The series of three articles I reference reinforce that.

We can go with that and boot all Catholic men from the priesthood.

Or we can buckle down and be honest: the problem is the absolute authority, power and privilege the Church has claimed by divine right for its (all male) clerics and how that has rotted that system from the inside out as the world has rejected and dismantled such systems throughout the world.

I know that is a lot to ask. The Vatican and the Maryknolls together kicked out Roy Boyrgeios --- arguably one of the most committed peace activists in the Roman Catholic Church in the second half of the 20th century with his work exposing and standing against the School.of the Americas and that American institution's role in the civil wars of Central America, those murderous campaigns against poor brown people, huge numbers of them Roman Catholic, huge numbers of them the immigrants crossing our southern borders to escape the societal destruction and violence we facilitated as a country. (Think of it: he organized a decades-long resistance to US support for and and training of some of the people arguably responsible for the people who killed The Churchwomen of El Salvador and Ignacio Ellacuria and even Saint Oscar Romero.)

And the Roman Catholic hierarchy punished him and abandoned him and defrocked him because he dared to challenge the all male clergy's hold on the keys to their castle.

That says everything, guys.

Your collective grip on the Church mattered more than standing with one of the Church's most powerful activists fighting for the safety and dignity and future of millions and millions of brown and poor Catholic adults and children, and rven Catholic sisters, priests and a Saint.

The issue isn't about sexuality or whether Jesus is down with women priests or even Roy Bourgeios's naughtiness in defying orders.

It is that you, the collective you, are rotting from the inside out because you want your castle and I think you know, in the wee hours of the night, that those days are coming to an end one way or another because they are over EVERYWHERE and the writing has been on the worldwide wall for about a century. Yours is going to be an ugly time in the history books. And your brother Roy may go down not only as a courageous and profound activist but a great prophetic voice who showed the Catholic hierarchy its own soul.

Stock Market Guru
6 days 6 hours ago

Roy Boyrgeios was a left-wing screwball. The United States was within her rights to fight communist and Marxist thugs like Daniel Ortega. And no, millions of illegal aliens -- brown OR whatever color -- do not have a right to enter our country and dump themselves on our doorstep.

Let those people clean up their own countries before invading ours: embrace free market capitalism....the rule of law....private proprety rights.....and independent central bank to prevent inflation....an independent judiciary.

Call us in 20 years. Things will be alot better, trust me. If you doubt me, check out the "colony" known as Hong Kong the last 100+ years.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 21 hours ago

Wow, you’re happy it was a GIRL!!! Sick, gay pederast supporters are gleeful when a female gets abused so they can help keep the heinous gay mafia in place. That’s bizarre, but the way a Lib thinks.

Think about it, if your politics are in lockstep with a deviant mafia then maybe you should go to confession? Try to change?

A Fielder
5 days 20 hours ago

Elaine, she did not say “happy.” And your characterization of her gleefulness is not supported by any facts.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 18 hours ago

He put GIRL in ALL CAPS. So his focus is on the gender, solely to try and refute what is now known by all Catholics. The root of the abuse scandal is homosexuality. Finding exception(s) does not change the facts on this.

J Brookbank
5 days 14 hours ago

Elaine, I appreciate your comment. I understand how you could misunderstand my intention. I

capitalized the gender of the victim in effort to catch the attention of people who hear " clerical csexual abuse" and assume the victim is a boy and then launch into attscks on gay priests.

Jim Spangler
6 days 12 hours ago

So now the fox is being put into the hen house with the chickens to guard them! Where does this all stop! DiNardo is supposed to be the head of the U. S. Bishops who is meeting with Pope Francis! Is there no longer an honest person in this world??? God send down your spirit and renew the Church, for it suffers greatly!

Therefore, putting away lying, "Let each one of you speak truth with his neighbor." for we are members of one another. "Be angry, and do not sin": do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil. EPHESIANS 4:25-27

Jorge Luis Luaces Rabaza
6 days 10 hours ago

Aug 27th: DiNardo: “The recent letter of Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò brings particular focus and urgency to this examination. The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past....... how the grave moral failings of a brother bishop could have been tolerated for so long and proven no impediment to his advancement.“
http://usccb.org/news/2018/18-143.cfm

Victims of abuse in Texas to DiNardo: “Hypocrite”

“The archdiocese issued a statement Wednesday confirming that both people had come forward to report abuse by LaRosa-Lopez, one of them in 2001.“
https://www.khou.com/article/news/local/ahead-of-meeting-with-pope-card…

Robert Lewis
6 days 10 hours ago

DiNardo is one of the most viciously homophobic of Catholic hierarchs in the country. He told RETIRED priests of his archdiocese that, if they said mass for members of the Catholic gay group "Dignity," he would deprive them of health insurance and pensions. He is an evil old hypocrite.

Stock Market Guru
6 days 6 hours ago

Nothing hypocritcal at all. They are 2 separate issues. "Dignity" believes sodomy should be a sacrament and is against the Catholic Church's teachings. DiNardo is a faithful steward of the Catholic Church. If he failed to follow civil and canon law on sexual abuse, we'll determine that later.

Robert Lewis
5 days 22 hours ago

No surprise that "stock market gurus" can't spell "hypocritical." Also, Dignity members do NOT believe that "sodomy should be a sacrament"--or, at least, not any more than devotees of the "Theology of the Body" believe that heterosexual connubial acts are "sacraments." The modern association, by heterosexuals and homosexuals, that carnal love-making is the most essential glory of adult human life is risible.

Harvey Milk, MD
5 days 19 hours ago

many of the homophobic comments are written by the same author but by using multiple accounts. They reflect a very sad soul and are gravely mentally ill. Consider the following:

“Internet Trolls Are Narcissists, Psychopaths, and Sadists
Trolls will lie, exaggerate, and offend to get a response.”
https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/your-online-secrets/201409/inte…

The next time you encounter a troll online, remember:

“These trolls are some truly difficult people.
It is your suffering that brings them pleasure, so the best thing you can do is ignore them. “

References

Buckels, Erin E., Paul D. Trapnell, and Delroy L. Paulhus. "Trolls just want to have fun." Personality and Individual Differences67 (2014): 97-102.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 20 hours ago

To homophilic deviant apologists like Robert, anybody who is Catholic is a “homophobe”. LOL!!! I guess God, Jesus, and St. Paul are “homophobes”?

Anal sodomy is a sin, knucklehead. The “god of surprises” is Satan.

Harvey Milk, MD
5 days 19 hours ago

“Anal sodomy is a sin”
Dont knock it till you try it sweetheart. 😘😍😇

Elaine Boyle
5 days 18 hours ago

So says Alistair Crowley, the world's foremost Satan/Occultist. George, you need to stay away from boys. You should be investigated.

Andrew Wolfe
6 days 8 hours ago

The lavender mafia sends some volleys towards DiNardo to soften him up before he meets the Pope.

arthur mccaffrey
6 days 7 hours ago

if Francis was so ill- informed about where the abuse took place in Ireland that the Minister for Children had to hold his hands for several minutes when first meeting with him in Dublin on August 25 to bring him up to date on the abuse in the Magdalene Laundries and the Mother & Babies Homes, do we have any confidence that he is any better informed on the DiNardo incompetence? who is briefing the Pope? I have less and less confidence that this Pope is an avid seeker of truth, and is mostly about touchy feely love thy neighbor regardless of the crimes being committed under his watch.......I prefer a Pope who is more John Wayne and less Danny Kaye.

Dennis Doyle
6 days 7 hours ago

Does any one seriously believe that this systemic evil that infiltrated the ecclesiastical leaders of the Church can be exorcised without the evil doers asking for the Laity to investigate and recommend a path forward.?If you still hold to the proposition that the clergy will fix the problem without intervention and oversight, tell me what if amynthing has to happen that might change your mind.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 20 hours ago

There must be a ban on homosexual men in seminaries. We need to ordain only healthy minded men. We have 50-60 years of proof now, the deviant pathway we’ve chosen since 1962 is not progress, it’s regression. So, we can regain to where we once were, and move forward again.

Satan took us on a downward detour in 1962.

A Fielder
5 days 20 hours ago

Sorry Elaine, McCarrick was ordained in 1958. Your theories are not very convincing. If you want gay men to leave the priesthood encourage monogamy.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 18 hours ago

It's interesting to learn about the homosexual deviancy crisis. Most recently, I read that Cardinal Spellman was a homosexual, and many say he started us on this perverted diabolical path downwards.

Stock Market Guru
6 days 6 hours ago

Clearly, DiNardo was informed. This is not a case of the diocesan beauracracy screwing things up or covering things up. Clearly, DiNardo knew and he has some explaingin to do. I say that as a so-called "conservative."

He tried to do something but it's the old "Psychiatry Excuse" baloney as if this problem can be solved like a high fever with antibiotics. The only solution is to immediately defrock the priest and remove him from active ministry. If the charges seem implausible or have doubt, err on the side of caution and move him to a position that doesn't involve children and/or young adults.

It's the only way.

Elaine Boyle
5 days 20 hours ago

Liberal catholics like to use “abuse” as a weapon to attack prelates they hate, like the Archbishop in Kansas City named Finn. But when the abuse is tied-in all the way to the god of surprises himself, Francis, they want to excuse it. Normal Catholics never excuse it, just because a pervert aligns with leftist ideoligy.

Vincent Couling
5 days 20 hours ago

Cardinal DiNardo needs to be investigated by the civil authorities. If found culpable, he should have his cardinalate rescinded, and should be dismissed as president of the USCCB. Whether or not he should hand in his petticoat and frock and be laicized will be determined, I suppose, by the extent of the malfeasance which is established.

Harvey Milk, MD
5 days 19 hours ago

DiNardo needs to be investigated by civil authorities and should also have a Coadjutor Bishop assigned to his archdiocese. The hypocrisies by DiNardo are beyond the pale. The victims informed the archdiocese back in 2002 of the abuse and yet DiNardo allowed the priest to not only be a Pastor but also hold the position within the archdiocese under his watch as episcopal vicar of Hispanics. What gall! And for DiNardo to accuse, along with Chaput and Raymond Burke, the Vicar of Christ under the guise of a bogus scandalous arrogant “testimony” by bitter Vigano is so pathetic. No wonder we hate the US Bishops en total!

Wuerl is asking the Holy Father to accept his resignation. All US Bishops should be submitting theirs via FAX, email or twitter post-haste

Elaine Boyle
5 days 18 hours ago

Sorry, but PF1 is more closely tied into the gay mafia than any others. But Vigano is correct, they should ALL resign. That is what Vigano states and he's correct: ALL means DiNardo and Francis, if need be. No more pro-sin GayChurch, it's anti-God by definition.

J Brookbank
5 days 13 hours ago

The Pope said in Ireland that elitism and clericalism allow every kind of abuse to thrive.

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