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Valley bishop addresses criminal charges against local priest

Valley bishop addresses criminal charges against local priest
3 months 4 days 15 minutes ago Thursday, February 22 2024 Feb 22, 2024 February 22, 2024 11:38 AM February 22, 2024 in News - Local

Bishop Daniel Flores, from the Brownsville Diocese, addressed the criminal charges brought against priest Fernando Gonzalez Ortega.

"We feel together with them the shock and the pain of the news of this week," Bishop Flores said.

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Ortega is facing five charges including, sexual abuse of a child and human trafficking, an issue that's affected dioceses across the country.

"The general sense is that cases of abuse within the Roman Catholic Church have been decreasing. But we don't have much data to back that up. That's taking most dioceses on good faith for their internal reporting," Case Western Reserve University professor Brian Clites said.

Clites is an expert in religious and catholic studies. He has interviewed 87 victims of abuse over the last 15 years and identified trends in cases and how the church addresses them.

He says the last two decades have brought more pressure on authorities to act.

"Unfortunately in the 20th century, including in the 80s and 90s, a lot of Catholic cops, Catholic judges looked the other way when abuse was reported out of a misguided sense of loyalty to their own," Clites said.

The parish community at St. Luke's Catholic Church in Brownsville is still processing what happened. Bishop Flores says counseling services are being offered to the victim and family.

RELATED STORY: Brownsville parishioners react to arrest of former priest

"I want to encourage everyone that we must continue to increase our diligence in providing a safe environment for all our young people and vulnerable adults. We have a process in place that allowed us to take immediate action as soon as the allegation was reported to our victims' assistance coordinator," Bishop Flores said.

Channel 5 News did reach out to the Diocese of Brownsville since the news on Ortega broke, but they said they were unable to schedule a time to speak.

Watch the video above for the full story.

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