Tucson's Catholic Bishop Emeritus Dies

Associated Press, carried in New York Times [Tucson AZ]
November 18, 2006

Tucson, Ariz. (AP) -- Bishop emeritus Manuel D. Moreno, the son of a migrant farmworker who rose to became the nation's sixth Hispanic bishop and led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson for 21 years, has died. He was 75.

Moreno died Friday night at his home in Tucson surrounded by friends and family after a long battle with prostate cancer and Parkinson's disease, according to Fred Allison, a spokesman for the diocese.

His successor, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas, called Moreno "a humble and loving person, aware of his own limitations, but always striving to do his best; a great servant of the Lord."

Moreno, who as a teenager worked alongside his father picking walnuts and oranges, was ordained in 1961 and in 1976 became the nation's sixth Hispanic priest elevated to bishop status, chosen by Pope Paul VI.

He led the Tucson Diocese for 21 years, retiring for health reasons in March 2003. The diocese serves more than 350,000 Catholics across nine counties in southern Arizona.

As bishop, Moreno advocated human rights for illegal immigrants.

He was also forced to deal with lawsuits stemming from allegations of sexual abuse by priests in the diocese -- including accusations that he had covered up abuses during his tenure.

Moreno admitted in a 2001 deposition knowing nine years earlier that a priest likely had sexually abused children but that he had not been truthful about it to the Vatican or the diocese. Still, he denied in February 2002 that he had lied to the Vatican or southern Arizona's Catholics.

Later that year, Moreno introduced a diocesan policy requiring mandatory reporting of suspected child abuse to law enforcement. It also called for defrocking priests found guilty and focused on abuse prevention.


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