Catholic Church to release list of Texas clergy credibly accused of sexual abuse


    The Catholic Diocese of Austin and across Texas will release a list of clergy Thursday afternoon that it believes could have sexually abused children. The church hopes this will help to rebuild trust. (CBS Austin file image)

    The Catholic Diocese of Austin and across Texas will release a list of clergy Thursday afternoon that it believes could have sexually abused children. The church hopes this will help to rebuild trust.

    The list could have names dating back to the 1950s, according to the Diocese. It is unclear how long the list of names will be.

    A spokesperson for the Austin Diocese said the list will be released online.

    Licensed psychologist, Dr. Allison Sallee said the list might be triggering for victims who came forward and for those who didn't.

    She said those victims and all members of the church should attempt to mentally prepare themselves.

    "I think people may need time to kind of process things, especially if they recognize a person and perhaps they didn't come out," said Dr. Sallee. "It might bring up unwanted memories. They may not know what to do with it. They may not have had support at the time it happened to them. They might not have been believed."

    That may be especially true for victims abused in decades past when it was more common for victims to be blamed or not believed.

    Dr. Sallee said when there is a huge power differential, like a young child accusing a high-ranking member of the Catholic Church, it can make coming forward that much harder.

    She said the list might also be validation for some victims.

    Dr. Sallee said it is important for survivors to know that no matter the abuse, there is help.

    "This is a terrible, horrible thing that happened, but it's also survivable," said Dr. Sallee. "And it's something that doesn't have to inform the entirety of their being."

    In October, Austin Bishop Joe Vasquez told CBS Austin that he believes most priests are good, holy men. Still, he said the list is a step toward healing.

    "We want to make sure we can move forward from this, and say we're responding to the victims and care for them, provide for them, and also restoring the trust level from all," he said.

    The Austin Diocese said along with the list of names, it will advise victims on how they can report abuse to police or to the church's Office of Ethics and Integrity. It can also help the victims get in touch with counselors.

    If you need to access counseling, shelter, legal services, or peer support, you can reach out to SAFE Alliance's confidential, 24-hour safeline: Call – 512-267-safe (7233) or text 737-888-7233.

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