Catholic PriestFor decades the Roman Catholic Church has had to deal with allegations of sexual abuse. One would only need to look as far as the brilliant and terrifying reporting in Boston done by the Spotlight team to know how serious this issue is. In Texas Thursday the Roman Catholic Church identified approximately 300 priests and other church officials accused of sexually abusing children.

This announcement by the Church was one of the largest group of names ever disclosed by the Church as it faces United State and federal investigations into the church’s handling of allegations of sexual abuse by priests that have plagued communities worldwide.

15 Catholic dioceses in Texas posted the names online following an August grand jury report in Pennsylvania detailing seventy years of abuse involving thousands of children by more than 300 priests.

“The Bishops of Texas have decided to release the names of these priests at this time because it is right and just and to offer healing and hope to those who have suffered,” said Cardinal Daniel DiNardo of the Galveston-Houston diocese to Reuters news, who is also president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB).

Dozens of other dioceses around the U.S. have followed suit and released the names of hundreds of priests and others accused of abuse following the Pennsylvania report. This has caused some states to open their own investigations into the church.

Texas’ Catholic dioceses have been in the forefront of the conversation since November when authorities served a warrant on the Galveston-Houston archdiocese looking for documents related to a priest that had been charged in September with sex crimes.

8.5 million or roughly 30 percent of the Texas population identify as Catholics. This is one of the highest rates in the U.S. according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). Some of the 15 Texas dioceses listed priests accused of abuse going back to the 1940s.

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