The raid on corruption in the United States Catholic Church that officially began with the Pennsylvania grand jury report this summer accelerated this week when 50 members of law enforcement agencies raided the offices of Cardinal DiNardo, president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. They were reportedly searching for "secret archives" containing evidence for sexual abuse cover-ups, according to LifeSiteNews.
Cardinal DiNardo runs the diocese of Galveston-Houston; the members who raided his chancery were from the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Rangers, and Conroe Police officers.
KHOU reports that the District Attorney's office was searching for documents regarding Fr. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez, who was recently charged with four counts of indecency with a child. DiNardo has been accused by the victims of "not doing enough" to stop La Rose-Lopez. From the report:
A man and a woman claimed they were abused as teenagers by LaRosa-Lopez between 1998 and 2001 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church.
Both people accuse Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who oversees the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, of not doing enough to stop La Rosa-Lopez. One of them said DiNardo promised her that the priest would be removed from any contact with children, only to later discover that LaRosa-Lopez remained in active ministry at another parish, St. John the Fisher in Richmond.
In a statement following the raid, the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston said that Cardinal DiNardo has been cooperating with law enforcement from the outset.
"The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston continues to cooperate, as we have since the outset, with this process," said the statement. "In fact, consistent with Cardinal DiNardo’s pledge of full cooperation, the information being sought was already being compiled."
The statement went on to say that the so-called "secret archives" raided by law enforcement were simply "confidential documents kept in a secure manner for the protection of the privacy of individuals — not unlike medical records."
Earlier this week, just two days before the raid on Wednesday, Cardinal DiNardo penned an op-ed in the Houston Chronicle in which he defended the archdiocese's handling of the La Rosa-Lopez case. DiNardo says that after meeting with one of La Rosa-Lopez's male accusers in 2018, he was immediately removed from ministry.
"After our meeting, Father La Rosa-Lopez was removed from ministry," DiNardo said. "The law requires that child abuse allegations are reported to either Child Protective Services or law enforcement. While we reported this allegation to CPS, we have reviewed our procedures and in the future we will contact both law enforcement and CPS simultaneously."
Two other priests within the diocese that were previously accused of sexually abusing minors in the 1970's and 80's were allowed back into ministry only after law enforcement reviewed their case.
The raid on DiNardo's chancery comes after the Vatican ordered the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to withhold their vote on sexual abuse reform measures until a meeting in February. The proposals would include an investigative body of competent lay members in good standing with the Catholic Church as well as a new code of conduct for American bishops.