Dallas Catholic Diocese investigating all priests as a precaution

The bishop of the Dallas Catholic Diocese says he is having all priests in the diocese investigated as a precaution because of the church's sex abuse scandal.

Bishop Edward Burns held a service and town hall meeting Tuesday evening at Saint Cecilia in North Oak Cliff where a priest is accused of sexually abusing teenagers a decade ago. The allegations were brought to the church's attention in recent months.

Tuesday’s ceremony and town hall meeting are the first of four Bishop Burns will be holding in the diocese to share with parishioners what’s being done in light of church scandals, including an ongoing investigation of priests there.

The night opened with a service of sorry, a rarely done service, with Bishop Burns removing the outer garments of his position and prostrating himself before the altar, which is a sign of penance.

Most of the ceremony and the town hall meeting that followed was closed to cameras. Bishop Burns repeatedly told the faithful “We need to rebuild this church to work together as God’s people.”

Burns said among the steps being taken was an outside investigation and a thorough probe of every priest in the diocese.

“An outside agency to look at all the files of our priests,” Burns said. “It’s important for me as a shepherd to know who I’m placing in the parish to assure the faithful that the man who is serving them is indeed suitable and fit. We’re not going to be afraid to face this, and we’re going to face this head-on.”

St. Cecilia’s longtime pastor, Edmundo Paredes, went missing earlier this year after being accused of molesting three teenage boys a decade ago and stealing money.

Paredes may have returned to his native country of The Philippines, but Bishop Burns says his whereabouts are still unknown.

Bishop Burns recently came to Dallas from Juneau, Alaska. He told the people that he’s also asked the diocese there to release all his files to a former FBI agent for the same kind of thorough background check.