DALLAS (ChurchMilitant.com) - A suspended priest in Texas went missing after three men came forward with credible allegations of homosexual assault.
Father Edmundo Paredes used to be the pastor of St. Cecilia Catholic Church in the diocese of Dallas. Three men came forward to the diocese in February, claiming that Fr. Paredes, parish pastor for 27 years, had sexually assaulted them when they were in their mid-teens over a decade ago. The diocese reported the allegations to authorities.
Paredes was suspended by the diocese in June 2017 amid allegations of financial mismanagement. He was accused of stealing between $60,000 and $80,000 in cash from the parish. Paredes, in fact, admitted to the financial misconduct.
On Aug. 18, Bp. Edward Burns of Dallas told parishioners at St. Cecilia during a Saturday Vigil Mass that their disgraced former pastor has gone missing.
Bishop Burns remarked, "When there is a wolf in sheep's clothing that is startling enough. But when there is a wolf in shepherd's clothing, that is horrendous."
He announced that the diocese is in the process of hiring private investigators to track down Fr. Paredes. He suspects the suspended priest might be heading to his native Philippines, but Filipino authorities say they have not located him.
The parish has a school attached to it, which Paredes had helped oversee as pastor. Given the accusations of sexual abuse of teenage boys, this led some to the fear the worst about what Paredes might have done to the school's students.
The Dallas diocese called for any victims of Fr. Paredes to present their stories both to law enforcement and to Church officials.
Saturday's announcement at St. Cecilia was the first time the diocese went public about the allegations of sexual assault involving Fr. Paredes. In a statement Monday, the diocese explained why the allegations of sexual assault were not made public sooner:
Bishop Burns was prepared to announce this allegation in March, but there was concern for the victims who asked that it not be made public out of their great fear that it would compromise their anonymity in the community.
Because he had not been at St. Cecilia or any other parish since June 2017, Bishop Burns tried to be sensitive to the victims' request. When the Pennsylvania report was made public the Bishop believed he needed to inform the community of the allegations against the now suspended priest.
When Bishop Burns spoke to media on August 14 about the Pennsylvania report, he told reporters then he would have more to announce once he met with the Diocesan Review Board, which he did on August 16. More importantly he wanted his first public comments on the matter to be to the St. Cecilia community before speaking with the media about the allegations.
During his announcement to St. Cecilia parishioners at the Vigil Mass on Aug. 18, Bp. Burns encouraged the people not to lose faith over the credible allegations against Fr. Paredes.
"Do not let any sinful man separate you from our Lord Jesus Christ," he said.