September 20, 2004
Sept. 20 2004
Diocese files for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Tucson.
Bishop Gerald Kicanas holds a mandatory meeting with all parish
priests and pastors to brief them on a possible bankruptcy filing by the
diocese. Bankruptcy lawyers retained by the diocese to advise it are made
available to parish leaders to answer questions about bankruptcy and how
it might affect church operations. Kicanas advises parish priests that
each parish should retain counsel regarding a possible bankruptcy. Kicanas
says a decision will be made by mid-September.
The Vatican informs the Tucson diocese that the pope has agreed to remove
two of its priests, Monsignor Robert Trupia and the Rev. Michael Teta,
from the priesthood.
The Archdiocese of Portland files for bankruptcy protection,
becoming the first Roman Catholic diocese in the nation to file for Chapter
A Tucson man files a lawsuit against the Tucson diocese, the archdiocese
of Santa Fe, Kicanas, former Tucson Bishop Manuel Moreno and the chairman
of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, accusing them of violating
federal racketeering laws by moving priests who abused minors to other
states to shield them from possible litigation or criminal charges.
William Rubin, an attorney for the diocese of Tucson, says the diocese's
willingness to pay victims of sexual misconduct more than what the diocese's
insurers will pay is helping to push the diocese toward bankruptcy. Rubin
said the diocese does not have assets to pay present and future claims
of sexual misconduct and abuse.
Thousands of parishioners are told in parish newsletters and by their
priests and pastors that bankruptcy appears likely for the diocese. The
diocese tells parish priests it was listing its parish properties and
must tally them as part of an effort to determine the value of all its
Kicanas begins a public dialogue through the media and with parishioners
on the issue of bankruptcy as a way to "respond fairly" to those
who have been harmed by priests and others employed by the diocese, and
to those who have yet to file claims against the diocese or ask for money
for counseling or damages.
In a letter to parishioners and others posted on the diocese
Web site, Kicanas publishes the names of priests and others accused of
"credible allegations of sexual misconduct." The allegations
date back to 1950 and name 26 priests who at one time served the Tucson
diocese. Some are dead.
The diocese reports a $7 million deficit. Auditors note that
it is impossible to know the cost of present and future litigation to
the diocese and indicate the diocese may not be able to operate as it
has while litigating claims against it.
To raise money to pay claimants, the diocese sells several properties,
including its offices downtown, which it then leases.
Families of five girls are paid $1.8 million in an out-of-court
settlement in connection with molestation by a teacher at a diocese school
Bishop Manuel Moreno retires, citing health reasons. Moreno,
72, has prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease. Moreno led the diocese
for 21 years and had apologized to Tucson Catholics for his handling of
the priest sex abuse cases. Kicanas, 61, succeeds him. Kicanas came to
the Tucson Diocese from Chicago, his birthplace, in 2001 as co-adjutor
bishop here on Oct. 30 after the first sex abuses cases were filed against
the diocese. He was ordained bishop March 7, 2003.
Kicanas and Moreno acknowledge publicly that bankruptcy is a
possible option for the diocese.
In an out-of-court settlement with 10 victims, 11 lawsuits are
settled for an estimated $15 million.
The first civil suit is filed against the diocese alleging sexual
misconduct by a priest. Donnie Frei claims the Rev. Robert Trupia molested
The diocese pays $155,00 to eight claimants who said they were
sexually abused by priests. The matter is resolved without lawsuits.