Bishop of Tucson Diocese Resigns
Criticized over response to allegations
By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 3/8/2003
After struggling for more than a year to contend with
the clergy abuse crisis in the Catholic Diocese of Tucson, Bishop
Manuel D. Moreno yesterday announced his resignation at a noontime
Mass where he apologized to victims of priest abuse.
Moreno is the sixth American bishop to resign amid
the clergy abuse scandal since it erupted last January.
Church officials said yesterday that the 72-year-old
Moreno resigned for health reasons, leaving his post three years
before the Church's mandatory retirement age. He is in the early
stages of Parkinson's disease and is being treated for prostate
Moreno has also been the focus of criticism since
early last year, when the Tucson diocese settled 11 clergy sexual
abuse lawsuits against Monsignor Robert C. Trupia and three other
priests for an estimated $14 million.
In his homily at Mass yesterday, Moreno spoke of his
remorse. ''For the mistakes I have made, I am sincerely sorry. To
those whom my actions or inactions have injured, I reiterate my
contrition.'' The Globe, citing sealed court documents and internal
church records, reported last August that Moreno tried to place
Trupia on administrative leave in 1992, after learning of multiple
sexual misconduct allegations against him, but was thwarted after
Trupia launched a successful appeal to the Vatican. Moreno's critics
have said the diocese acted too late in attempting to remove Trupia
from active ministry.
Today, Trupia is living in Maryland, where he continues
to receive a monthly church stipend and insurance benefits from
The Trupia case remains controversial, in part because
the records reviewed by the Globe show that Trupia won his appeal
on a decision by Cardinal Dario Castrillon Hoyos, the head of the
Vatican's Congregation for the Clergy and a key figure in Vatican
revisions to a new policy for managing claims of clergy sexual abuse
in the United States that went into effect March 1.
Castrillon Hoyos sided with Trupia even through Moreno
reported that Trupia had attempted to intimidate him into revoking
his suspension and an order that he undergo a psychiatric evaluation
by threatening to reveal what he knew about a high-ranking Phoenix
bishop's sex life.
The documents reviewed by the Globe, which remain
sealed at the request of the church, allege that the late Bishop
James S. Rausch, then the general secretary of the National Conference
of Catholic Bishops, initiated numerous sexual encounters with a
17-year-old runaway and drug user, Brian F. O'Connor, and then passed
O'Connor on to Trupia and another priest, each of whom had sex with
O'Connor, who said he was later given a job at the
Tucson chancery to ensure his silence, said yesterday that he bears
Moreno no ill-will. ''He did everything he could to get rid of Trupia
13 years ago and Rome just sort of stomped him,'' O'Connor said.
''I think he made mistakes but had good intentions.''
Others, however, said Moreno's inability to suspend
Trupia is a cautionary tale for sexual abuse victims holding out
hope that the new church procedures will lead to swift action against
''One only has to look at this Tucson case to see
that the church process is very secretive and very skewed in the
direction of the accused,'' said David Clohessy, national director
of the Survivors Network of those abused by priests.
''After 14 months of horrific scandal, most Catholics
want to believe that replacing one bishop with another will improve
the situation but that's a naive view,'' Clohessy added. ''The problem
of clergy sexual abuse is much more deeply rooted in church culture
and the church hierarchy. Common sense dictates that we withhold
judgment until we see real improvement.''
Lynne M. Cadigan, an attorney for clergy abuse victims
who received the $14 million settlement, praised Moreno and his
successor, Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas for drawing up new policies
for preventing clergy sexual abuse.
Cadigan also criticized the refusal by the Tucson
Diocese to allow court records to be publicly released, despite
a pledge by American bishops to initiate a new era of openness on
''They don't want their parishioners to know the depth
of the scandal. That's the only conclusion one can draw,'' Cadigan
said. ''They seem to be more willing to release the names of perpetrators
but they will not share information about concealment and coverup
by the diocese.''
Fred Allison, spokesman for the Tucson Diocese, detailed
the health problems Moreno faced, but also said the clergy abuse
scandal was a factor in his decision to retire early.
''There is no doubt in the hearts and minds of many
of us who work closely with him that the wear and tear since 1997
when the first lawsuit was filed had an impact on his retirement,''
Kicanas was named coadjutor of the diocese after the
lawsuits were filed against Trupia and three other priests.
In a joint statement earlier this year, Moreno and
Kicanas said costs associated with the clergy abuse scandal had
exacerbated a fiscal crisis in the diocese. Kicanas also said the
diocese was considering filing for bankruptcy.
Michael Rezendes can be reached at [email protected]
This story ran on page B4 of the Boston Globe on 3/8/2003.
© Copyright 2003 Globe Newspaper Company.