Tucson Bishop Heading to Rome to Meet Pope [Tucson AZ]
May 20, 2004

TUCSON - The Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson's ongoing woes with sexual-abuse lawsuits will be among the subjects Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas is expected to address when he heads to the Vatican next week.

The trip is part of a centuries-old tradition called an "ad limina" that a bishop of a diocese is required to make every five years to Rome.

Kicanas is expected to have a 15-minute visit with Pope John Paul II and the bishop anticipates the sexual-abuse crisis in the American Catholic Church will come up during the meeting.

"I'm sure he's aware of it, but I will share that it's challenging and that we are trying very hard to heal the past and restore trust," Kicanas said of the crisis of clergy abusing boys that affected dioceses across the country, including the Tucson diocese. "Especially as we look to the future, to see this situation never repeats itself."

The diocese is facing 18 pending civil actions that allege sexual abuse by clergy.

One case, involving sexual-abuse claims by a former Tucson altar boy against a suspended monsignor, is scheduled to go to trial June 29.

The diocese has paid out what's estimated at more than $17 million in settlements over allegations of sexual abuse and says resources are limited.

Kicanas said the diocese has not ruled out filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but says it's not an issue he expects to address with the pontiff because of time restrictions.

Kicanas will be among the two archbishops and eight bishops, including Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted, from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops who will make their ad limina visits during the same week.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.