Thursday, May 23, 2024 May 23, 2024
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FOLLOWING UP: The Sex-Abuse Scandal


When D Magazine told the story of the Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ ineffective handling and covering up of child sex abuse by priests [“Innocence Lost,” September], local Catholics were outraged- a few at us, but more at the diocese. Shortly after the story by associate editor Dan Michalski appeared, the superintendent of diocese schools ordered diocese teachers to be fingerprinted and subject to criminal background checks.

The move, which erased an existing grandfather exemption, particularly angered the faculty at St. Pius X, where teachers were incensed because the policy does not require any kind of background checks on the priests at the church. “We understand the need to be cautious,” says Principal Ron Accomando. “But if you were one of us, you’d realize that we are all like family-and the priests that come and go, they are strangers to us.”

So as a show of protest, Accomando and 30 of his teachers disobeyed the Church ’$ orders and refused to have their fingerprints taken. In a letter to diocese superintendent Father Leonard Callahan, Accomando said he would only comply when “the clergy in the Diocese submit to like criminal background checks with results subject to a lay review board. It is we who should be watching their actions and not the other way around,”

Callahan says his jurisdiction is limited to teachers, and therefore he has no authority to require anything from the priests. He believes the teachers are overreacting to the D Magazine story. The diocese has threatened to fire the teachers, even though terminating an entire staff may prove impractical.

“Every other school in the diocese has complied,” Callahan says. “I’ve even had mine done.”