National News

 U.S. Headlines



Bishop says Tucson Diocese Will Deal With Sexual Abuse

Associated Press
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 it arose.

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.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests