Investigators are trying to locate a Filipino priest from Texas who stole thousands of dollars from his parish, and is accused of molesting teenage boys.
Officials of the St. Cecilia Catholic Church in Dallas, Texas believe Rev. Edmundo Paredes may have fled to the Philippines. Paredes was a pastor at the church for nearly 30 years.
Paredes came under investigation by the church in May 2017 over allegations that he stole from his parish an estimated $60,000 to $80,000 in cash. Bishop Edward Burns of the Roman Catholic Bishop of the Diocese of Dallas said that Paredes admitted to the financial misconduct was removed from the church and suspended from the ministry in June 2017.
Churchgoers learned last weekend that Paredes was under investigation over allegations that Paredes sexually assaulted three teenage boys in the parish over a decade ago.
A spokeswoman for the Catholic Dioceses said church officials were not aware of the sexual assault allegations at the time of Paredes’ suspension. Church officials received the allegations in February.
Burns said Paredes is no longer permitted to function or present himself as a priest. He added that Dallas police found Paredes’ sexual abuse allegations to be credible.
A statement published from the Diocese of Dallas on Monday, August 20 said that Burns was ready to announce the allegations in March, but decided not to in order to protect victim anonymity.
“Keep in mind that these allegations reported to and by the Diocese of Dallas were brought by adults who could have reported it to police themselves, but did not,” the statement said. “The Diocese reported it as soon it learned of the allegations.”
Paredes’ publicized allegations come as the Catholic Church deals with a number of recent abuse scandals internationally.
In the U.S., a Pennsylvania grand-jury report released last week revealed allegations of sexual abuse of minors by about 300 priests in six Pennsylvania Roman Catholic dioceses over the past 70 years. Following the report, Missouri’s attorney general on Thursday, August 23, initiated an investigation into sex crimes within the state’s Catholic Church.
On Monday, August 20, Pope Francis wrote a letter to Catholics saying that the church had not dealt with “crimes” against children properly. He called for the church to prevent sexual abuse from being “covered up and perpetuated.”
“Looking ahead to the future, no efforts must be spared to create a culture able to prevent such [abuses] from happening, but also to prevent the possibility of their being covered up and perpetuated,” wrote Francis.
Francis is slated to visit Ireland this weekend, and is expected to meet with victims of clergy sexual abuse.