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Catholic leaders in Texas name 286 accused of sexually abusing children

Dallas -- Catholic leaders in Texas on Thursday identified 286 priests and others accused of sexually abusing children. The number represents one of the largest collections of names to be released since an explosive grand jury report last year in Pennsylvania.

Fourteen dioceses in Texas named those credibly accused of abuse. The only diocese on Thursday not to provide names, Fort Worth, had done so more than a decade ago and then provided an updated accounting in October.

The move by Texas church leaders comes months after the shocking Pennsylvania report detailed seven decades of child sexual abuse by more than 300 predator priests. In the months after that report, which came out in August, about 50 dioceses and religious provinces have released the names of nearly 1,250 priests and others accused of abuse. Approximately 60 percent of them have died. 

About 30 other dioceses are investigating or have promised to release names of credibly accused priests in the coming months.

In Texas, the Diocese of Dallas and some others relied on retired police and federal investigators to review church files and other material to substantiate claims of abuse. 

It's not clear whether any of the names released Thursday could result in local prosecutors bringing criminal charges. The majority of those identified have died. Some investigations dated back to 1940 while other reviews, as in the case of the Diocese of Lubbock, only went to 1983 because that's when that diocese was established.

The head of the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, who also is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, is expected to attend a February summit called by Pope Francis to sensitize church leaders around the globe to the pain of victims, instruct them how to investigate cases and develop general protocols for church hierarchy to use. The Archdiocese named 40 credibly accused priests, according to CBS affiliate KHOU. They include 23 diocesan priests, 13 religious order priests and four visiting priests, along with two others who are listed as under investigation.

The archdiocese said it compiled the list based on allegations it "has reason to believe is true after reviewing reasonably available, relevant information and consulting with the Archdiocesan Lay Review Board."

DiNardo said in a statement Thursday that, "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. On behalf of all who have failed in this regard, I offer my sincerest apology. Our church has been lacerated by this wound and we must take action to heal it."

Pennsylvania Catholics weigh in on priest sex abuse scandal

Speaking Thursday, Archbishop of the San Antonio archdiocese, Gustavo Garcia-Siller, thanked survivors for coming forward, calling them "heroic." His archdiocese on Thursday named 56 credibly accused clergy members, many with multiple allegations against them, dating back to 1941. Most of the accused priests were either deceased or permanently removed from ministry, with the exception of three who were visiting from other countries at the time of the alleged incidents whom church officials weren't able to locate.

Investigations were also ongoing into a recent allegation against a deceased priest in the archdiocese and a living priest, both of whom weren't named in the report, and into three priests who victims either couldn't identify or chose not to identify. Five additional living priests who were accused had allegations found not to be credible. It says law enforcement was notified of the allegations against living clergy.

The San Antonio report said the archdiocese "seeks to express regret and apologize for the failings and sins that have hurt the church so deeply, especially in our most vulnerable members. The Archdiocese especially asks forgiveness for the failings of those who have held leadership positions in the church."

Garcia-Siller encouraged anyone with more allegations to contact the church or law enforcement.

"It's a horrible situation when we see so many lives affected over the years," Garcia-Siller said.

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