Bishop says Tucson Diocese Will Deal
With Sexual Abuse
Feb. 04, 2002
TUCSON - Tucson Bishop Manuel D. Moreno told parishioners at a
church linked to several abuse lawsuits that the Catholic diocese
here will fix its internal problems.
"We are putting together broken pieces," Moreno told
700 parishioners attending Mass early Sunday at Our Mother of Sorrows.
"We are making new what has been damaged by sin and neglect
and ignorance and betrayal of trust."
The church was named in seven of the 11 lawsuits alleging abuse
by four priests, all of whom once worked at Our Mother of Sorrows.
The diocese, which serves about 350,000 Catholics in nine southern
Arizona counties, settled the suits law week after agreeing to pay
an undisclosed sum of money and apologize publicly and privately
to the victims and their families.
Moreno issued one of the promised apologies during the Sunday service.
Monsignor Thomas Cahalane, the church's pastor, followed that with
an acknowledgment of the "painful truth of what happened here."
Parishioners responded to Moreno and Cahalane with a standing ovation.
"I feel more support for my church than ever before,"
said church member Tamra Kuehl, a 20-year-old junior at the University
of Arizona. "Priests are human and there are bad priests out
there. . . . But the priests I have known have always been wonderful
and I have never felt threatened."
Church members praised Cahalane in large part for keeping their
congregation together. Though Cahalane did not come to the church
until 1981, members say he did not back down from the issue when
Cahalane said that Our Mother of Sorrows as a parish will not suffer
financially as a result of the settlement because the payment came
from the diocese. He said the church has suffered emotionally because
of the lawsuits but is now ready to heal.
The lawsuits included 10 men who said they were abused by priests
in the 1960s and 1970s, and one alleged case in the 1980s.
The men, saying they had repressed memories of the molestation
until recently, began suing the diocese in the late 1990s.
The priests named in the lawsuits included a visiting priest, the
Rev. Pedro Luc de la Meunier, who is believed to have since died;
the Rev. William Byrne, who died of a brain tumor in 1991; Monsignor
Robert C. Trupia, who lives in Maryland; and the Rev. Michael Teta,
whose last known address was in Tucson.
The lawsuits said the victims were abused by priests who befriended
them and often gave them drugs and alcohol. The lawsuits said the
diocese knew about the abuse but didn't take any steps to prevent
it from continuing.