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  Kicanas Reported Rogue Priest in '93
Tucson's Bishop, Then in the Chicago Diocese, Told Officials about Sexual Misconduct Claim

By Sheryl Kornman
Tucson Citizen
February 11, 2005

Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas' name has come up as a Chicago priest stepped down this week from a campus ministry after a sexual relationship the priest had with an 18-year-old man 15 years ago surfaced in the news.

Kicanas was auxiliary bishop of the Chicago Diocese in 2001 when the priest was appointed chaplain of a University of Chicago Catholic student center.

Kicanas had advised the diocese of the priest's 1990 misconduct when he learned of it in 1993 from the seminary student involved.

The Chicago priest, the Rev. Michael Yakaitis, 52, resigned the student center post Tuesday, saying he should not have accepted the job, "given my past history," according to the Chicago Tribune.

Kicanas said in an interview with the Tucson Citizen yesterday that "there is no question the (Chicago) diocese was on notice when concerns were brought forward about the priest."

Yakaitis had been chaplain of Calvert House, the UC Catholic student center in Hyde Park, since 2001.

He admitted he had a sexual relationship 15 years ago with a male seminarian.

Kicanas said Cardinal Francis George, who said this week he was sorry he placed the priest in the University of Chicago ministry, was not in the diocese when the priest's sexual relationship occurred.

Kicanas said yesterday he was not consulted about the hiring of Yakaitis for the college job and wouldn't have been because he was auxiliary bishop in the northern part of the diocese and the university is in the southern part of the diocese.

Kicanas said the cardinal "has indicated he was not made aware" of Yakaitis' admission of the sexual relationship with the 18-year-old before he appointed him to the college job.

"I wouldn't have been consulted about that because I wasn't the vicar for that area," Kicanas said.

In 1993, "I made these reports (to the diocese about Yakaitis); Father (John) Canary made these reports. They were on file," Kicanas said.

"What was in the file didn't get brought forward when the appointment was made," he said.

He said what was in the file included questions about "whether this person could be re-placed in an adult situation; can this person be remediated?"

Kicanas said the priest was sent to treatment.

"Obviously he did go away for treatment. The question is what is at stake here, whether going into a college setting was the wisest thing to do.

"The story here is, there was a report made. There was a file. What needs to be investigated is how the assignment happened and why the cardinal was not made aware there was some history (of a sexual relationship).

"Whether (the cardinal) was told after the fact is not the issue. I'm not saying I did or didn't talk to the cardinal about the assignment," Kicanas said.

"The assignment was made."

Kicanas came to Tucson in October 2001 as co-adjutor bishop of the diocese and became bishop in May 2003 after the retirement of Bishop Manuel Moreno.

Contact: skornman@tucsoncitizen.com

 
 

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