The Catholic Diocese of Dallas announced Tuesday they have hired investigators to look into 220 active priests.
Bishop Edward Burns says he is not afraid to face this issue head-on amidst a nationwide sexual abuse scandal that has rocked the church.
The Diocese of Dallas started the internal investigation in February and hired a team of former state and federal law enforcement officials. That team, made of former state and federal law enforcement officials, is reviewing the personnel files of all 220 active priests and will look into any accusations.
Burns wants his parishoners to know the diocese is focused on healing and safety.
"It's important to me as a shepherd to know who I'm placing in the parrish to ensure the faithful that the men serving them is indeed suitable and fit," Burns said.
It's unclear when the investigation will be complete and if the results will be made public. A spokesperson said the investigation is limited to active priests for now but could be expanded to previous priests.
The church held a “ceremony of sorrow” at St. Cecilia Catholic Church on Tuesday.
Burns ceremonially took off his Bishop garments and laid face down on the altar as a symbol of sorrow and repentance after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced at the church in August.
In August, three men came forward alleging Reverend Edmundo Paredes sexually abused them as teenagers, according to the diocese. Paredes disappeared and the Diocese hired a private investigator to track him down.
"What it has done is it has heightened my care and concern for these good people, they did not ask for this and they do not deserve this,” Burns told reporters before the ceremony.
"The failure of too many of my brother bishops to protect the children by covering up the crimes of the perpetrators and rebuffing victims who came forward has scandalized the Catholic faithful and the public at large," Burns told the congregation. "As your shepherd, I apologize."