Parishioners, Clergy Support Bishop's Decision on Filing

Associated Press, carried in Casa Grande Valley Newspapers [Tucson AZ]
September 21, 2004

- Some parishioners say they are getting weary of the time it has taken the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson to resolve its sexual abuse problems involving clergy.

On Monday, the diocese filed for bankruptcy protection because of the escalating cost of clerical sex abuse cases.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas told parishioners in a letter that filing the voluntary petition for Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization offered "the best opportunity for healing and for the just and fair compensation of those who suffered sexual abuse by workers for the church in our diocese."

Denise Ferrell, a parishioner at St. Christopher's Catholic Church in Marana, seemed angered at the events.

"It's like the attorney who is representing the plaintiffs would just like the Catholic Church to leave the face of the Earth. The parishioners did not do this," said Ferrell, 42.

"I support the bishop 100 percent. How much more can the church do? Maybe the court will want us to tear down all the churches and sell the property, and that is not fair," added Ferrell. "We're a poor diocese, and I just don't think it's fair that all these people struggling to survive in our parishes have to pay large sums of money for these attorneys."

Some local clergymen said the diocese was backed into a corner.

"The diocese was pushed to the ultimate option," said Monsignor Thomas Cahalane of Our Mother of Sorrows Catholic Church. "Bishop Kicanas consulted widely with many people and listened to feedback. But there was not the option to settle; it was not a reasonable option. This was the option of the last resort. But I don't have any doubt the parishioners will be totally supportive."


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