The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Statement
For immediate release: Saturday, November 13, 2010
SNAP blasts ex-Chicago priest who is near-certain new head of US bishops conference
Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com)
On Tuesday, American Catholic bishops will likely pick controversial Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas (a former Chicago priest) to head their organization. But we strongly oppose Kicanas’ candidacy and are urging his colleagues to vote against him.
We are appalled that a bishop with such disturbing involvement in the Fr. Daniel McCormack case is even in the running for the USCCB presidency.
Kicanas is one of several top Chicago church officials who knew about or heard of serious accusations of child sexual abuse or sexual misconduct by McCormack. (Kicanas headed the seminary which McCormack attended.) Like several of his colleages in the Chicago Archdiocese, Kicanas did little or nothing to report these allegations to police, warn parents about McCormack, or protect children from McCormack.
(After his ordination, McCormack would face charges of molesting more than 20 boys. At least one boy, prosecutors say, was assaulted by McCormack on a nearly daily basis. McCormack is now behind bars.)
To basically promote a prelate with such a disturbing track record is wrong. It will further discourage victims, witnesses and whistleblowers who seek to safeguard kids and expose predators.
In his defense, Kicanas says “At no time while McCormack was a seminarian at Mundelein did I receive any allegation of pedophilia or child molestation against him.”
Kicanas is parsing words, splitting hairs and being deceptive.
Indeed, Kicanas may not have received allegations 'during’ McCormack's seminary years.' But he clearly received the allegations about McCormack in the spring of 1992, a few months after McCormack left the seminary in 1991. McCormack wasn't ordained until 1994, and Kicanas remained rector until 1995. The simple truth is that Kicanas could have stopped McCormack's ordination. But he didn’t.
Kicanas is also totally unrepentant, even now refusing to admit he acted recklessly.
He has said ““It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him. There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience. I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that. I don’t think there was anything I could have done differently.””
Surely America’s bishops can do better than to promote a bishop who behaved so irresponsibly and whose actions and inactions directly gave a serial predator access to children he assaulted.
(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)
Contact David Clohessy (314-566-9790 cell, 314-645-5915 home, SNAPclohessy@a\l.com), Barbara Blaine (312-399-4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com), Peter Isely (414-429-7259, firstname.lastname@example.org), Barbara Dorris (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell, SNAPdorris@gmail.com)
Cardinal George wraps up term as head of bishop's group
Affirmation of the church's opposition to abortion rights one hallmark of Chicago prelate's tenure
By Manya A. Brachear, Tribune reporter November 13, 2010
Chicago Cardinal Francis George will step down from the presidency of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week, making room for a former Chicagoan, Bishop Gerald Kicanas, of Tucson, Ariz., to step up to the post.
The first cardinal elected to lead America's Catholic prelates, George will wrap up a three-year term at this week's fall assembly in Baltimore, where bishops also will discuss an agreement with Presbyterian Church-USA, the Reformed Church in America, the Christian Reformed Church, and the United Church of Christ to mutually recognize one another's baptisms as valid.
During his tenure, George aimed to strengthen Catholic identity by calling on church-affiliated colleges and media to abide by official teachings. Taking office as the U.S. presidential campaign got under way in earnest, George amplified Catholic positions on hot-button political issues such as abortion rights.
In George's presidential address after Barack Obama's election in 2008, he equated the opposition to abortion rights in the 21st century to the opposition to slavery in the 19th century.
"George will be remembered as a strong intellectual leader for the American bishops, and a leading force for clarity on matters of Catholic identity," said John Allen, a Vatican analyst and columnist for the National Catholic Reporter. "He'll also be remembered as the conference president who cemented the church's pro-life concerns, especially opposition to abortion, as priority No. 1."
Though there are nine other candidates for the presidency, bishops usually select the conference vice president — in this case Kicanas — to succeed the departing president. Kicanas, who became a bishop in Chicago under the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, is known for being more liberal than George. Allen predicts that Kicanas will work on relationships among the conference, theologians and health care professionals.
"I think his impact will be as a reconciler and someone who can broker compromise — somewhat in the Bernardin mold," Allen said, adding that the ideological differences between George and Kicanas won't matter to bishops.
"This isn't the Iowa caucuses — bishops don't vote exclusively along ideological lines," Allen said. "By and large, Kicanas is liked and respected even by people who might disagree with him on some issues."
The two men do have one thing in common — both were criticized for how they dealt with predator priests in the Chicago Archdiocese, most notably former priest and convicted sex offender Daniel McCormack.
Kicanas, rector of Mundelein seminary in 1992, while McCormack was a seminarian there, received reports of McCormack's relationships with a minor and other seminarians, according to an audit commissioned by the archdiocese after McCormack's arrest in 2006. Still, McCormack was ordained two years later.
George signed off on a promotion for McCormack two days before McCormack was taken into custody by law enforcement and questioned about allegations of abuse in August 2005. He was assigned a monitor at that time and arrested in January the following year. McCormack pleaded guilty to molesting five boys and was sentenced to 5 years in prison.
Victims advocates have continued to take issue with George's handling of priests' sexual misconduct with minors. Last month, the Chicago chapter of Voice of the Faithful released a report alleging that the church steered predator priests to low-income communities and failed to publicize the names of all priests linked to sexual misconduct with minors.
A letter from the cardinal recently published in parish bulletins called VOTF's claims "misleading and erroneous." An analysis of the report by the archdiocese concluded that, with the exception of McCormack, most allegations surfaced years after the priests' assignments. It also said the report used contemporary data in listing communities as low-income and failed to consider the demographic shifts in many parishes since the abuse allegedly occurred.
"We want to provide appropriate answers and correct information, but (the report) is seriously flawed," said Colleen Dolan, communications director for the archdiocese.
The archdiocese has never posted the names of priests who serve under the auspices of foreign dioceses, religious order priests, priests suspected of sexual misconduct with adults or deceased priests who weren't able to respond to the allegations before they died. But the church analysis noted that its Web site includes five names that VOTF omitted.
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests