Parish Predators

Despite the bishopís remarks to the contrary, the Galveston-Houston Roman Catholic Archdiocese had child molesters and let them go. But donít blame just the Church.

The Houston Police Department has posted a notice on its Web site, saying that "Due to the number of victims who have come forward, investigators believe other potential victims have not reported similar contact with the suspect. Anyone who has been victimized by German Moreno is urged to contact the HPD Juvenile Division Sex Crimes Unit at 713-731-5335."

Moreno's bail bondsman told the Chronicle in May 2005 that Moreno paid 10 percent of the bail in cash. The County Public Health Department paid Moreno's clinic $120 per patient. Those 46 children brought the clinic $5,520 -- just about enough to cover the amount Moreno paid out of pocket to bond out and disappear.

A representative of Affordable Bail Bonds in Richmond told the Press in July that the agency is "making arrangements" to retrieve Moreno.

The agency just may find Moreno sooner than authorities in Harris County. After all, the owners have a possibly greater motivation than justice. They want their money.

Free Rides
Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza's history with troubled priests

With the exception of the Houston Chronicle, Houston media outlets have given Archbishop Joseph Fiorenza a free ride when it came to his involvement in the scandal plaguing the Catholic Church. But a study of his actions while bishop of the San Angelo Diocese in the '80s and the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston shows a history of questionable judgment.

Father David Holley

The earliest record begins with notorious pedophile David Holley, a priest sentenced in 1992 to 275 years for raping parish boys in New Mexico.

In 1997, The Dallas Morning News published a series of letters among Fiorenza and other bishops suggesting that Fiorenza was aware of Holley's actions -- but willing to overlook them or, at the very least, showing no interest in finding out more about them to minimize risks.

In 1982, Holley requested to be incardinated in the San Angelo Diocese, meaning he would be an official employee of that diocese alone. At the time, Holley worked in San Angelo but was beholden to the Worcester, Massachusetts, diocese.

On June 2, 1982, Fiorenza wrote to Bishop Bernard Flanagan of Worcester: "I am aware of some of [Holley's] past difficulties, yet I do not know the extent of his problems. With our shortage of priests, I am willing to risk incardinating him unless you would advise me against it, since you know him far better than I doÉHe is very sensitive about his past and becomes most emotional in talking about it or if he thinks any of the priests are too inquisitive about his past ministry before coming to West Texas."

Shortly afterward, Flanagan replied: "You indicate your awareness of his past problems and I don't think of anything that I might add by way of further information."

December 22, 1982, Fiorenza to Flanagan: "...Some of his past problems surfaced again which made it advisable for me not to incardinate him...I have made it clear to him that I will give him a fair chance to exercise his priesthood here, but if there is one more lapse, I will ask him to leave."

May 25, 1984, Fiorenza to Flanagan: "It is with great regret that I write now to say that Father Holley has made it impossible for us to keep him in this diocese. I will ask Father Holley to return to his own diocese for whatever counsel you may wish to give him...I will continue to pray for him and hope that he will successfully deal with his problems so that he can continue a useful priestly ministry in the service of the Church."

Fiorenza did not comment for that story. Five years after it ran, he told the Chronicle that the "difficulties" he was referring to were Holley's problems with alcohol.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Annette Gonzales Taylor told the Press in July that the difficulties also referred to complaints "about Holley's insensitivity to the Hispanic culture [and] poor people skills."

Gonzales added: "Archbishop Fiorenza has a 50-year record of addressing the needs of anyone who sought his help. No one who's worked to review that record questions his compassion."

Father Fernando Noe Guzman

Guzman, who had fathered two illegitimate children in his native Mexico, came to Navasota, under Fiorenza's jurisdiction at the Diocese of Galveston-Houston, in 1984.

In 1986, a social worker visiting a deaf and blind elderly client's home walked in on Guzman having sex with the client's 13-year-old granddaughter on the kitchen floor while her grandfather lay in a room nearby.

Chronicle articles and subsequent court reports indicate that the social worker notified Diocese Chancellor Daniel Scheel. Scheel testified that he accepted Guzman's description of the girl as "a rather precocious child who came onto him" and notified Fiorenza.

After the social worker caught Guzman a second time, the priest was transferred to a parish in Galena Park, where he subsequently had an affair with a church secretary and fathered her child.

In his deposition, Fiorenza stated that he let Scheel handle things. For his part, Scheel testified that "I didn't feel we had an obligation to go pursue the situation."

Guzman confessed to having a sexual relationship with the Navasota teenager over a two-year period. He served 90 days in Grimes County Jail and was released on "shock probation," a procedure based on the theory that first-time felons can be "shocked" into lawfulness after a brief incarceration. He was never defrocked.

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