Bishop Kicanas and His Old Boss Make National News

By Stephanie Innes
Arizona Daily Star
November 13, 2007

Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas and Archdiocese of Chicago Cardinal Francis George are taking some heat for their new leadership posts with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

George will be the new president and Kicanas, a Chicago native, will be vice president.

Both have been criticized by the national Survivors Network of Those Abused by priests for not being accountable enough to victims of clergy sexual abuse.

I'm in Chicago this week and the issue here is particularly heated, as George has been critical of a proposed bill in the Illinois state legislature that would allow victims of clergy abuse to file civil suits even after the criminal statute has tolled.

The laws on that are different in every state of course in Arizon it's possible to file and win a lawsuit on an old case of sexual abuse (when the criminal statute has expired), but case law requires proof of repressed memory.

The Chicago Sun-Times has quoted a letter written by George that says those pushing for the proposed bil in Illinois are motivated by greed. That has created an outcry from victims rights advocates.

Some clergy abuse victims have been critical of Kicanas because he filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the face of potentially embarrassing lawsuits over sexual abuse by clergy. By declaring bankruptcy the church avoided having details of the reported abuse revealed in a public courtroom.

But in Kicanas' defense, he was widely praised for giving the victims of clergy abuse a fair and speedy settlement to their claims. The Tucson diocese was the first in the country to emerge from Chapter 11 in 2005, exactly one year after it filed.

In other Catholic Church news from the Midwest, a Milwaukee nun who also worked in Chicago, pleaded no contest Monday to molesting two boys at a church convent and school in Milwaukee where she worked in the 1960s.

The Chicago Sun-Times reports that Sister Norma Giannini, 79, had sexual contact, including sexual intercourse, with the boys more than 160 times over four years while she was the principal at St. Patrick's School in Milwaukee.


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