Documents released: Bishop Kicanas named in cover up scandal - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

Documents released: Bishop Kicanas named in priest sex scandal cover up

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TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) -

Six thousand pages of court documents outlining how the Archdiocese of Chicago handled the sexual abuse of children by priests were made public on Tuesday.

The documents name several Catholic leaders who were aware of the allegations against accused priests, and chose to not report it to authorities.

Among many others, Tucson Diocese Bishop Gerald Kicanas was one of the leaders in the Chicago Diocese at the time of these allegations.

The new information comes to light after the archdiocese handed the documents over to victims' attorneys, who said they wanted to show how the archdiocese concealed abuse for decades, including moving priests to new parishes where they molested again.

The records date back to the 1980's and 1990's, a time when Kicanas was a leader in a Chicago seminary that was home to some of the accused priests.

Tucson News Now attempted to talk to Bishop Kicanas at the diocese office, but we were told that unless we kept the case of convicted priest Daniel McCormack out of our story, the Bishop would not grant our request for an interview.

A diocese spokeswoman said the Bishop was under court order not to discuss specifics in that case.  We agreed not to ask questions about that particular case, but were told the Bishop would not interview with us unless we kept that case completely out of our story tonight.

The Bishop said it was unfair of us to mention the details, when he could not comment.  Former priest Daniel McCormack was charged and convicted of child abuse involving several young boys.  He was sentenced to five years in prison, all to be served concurrently.

In the 6,000 pages of investigative reports and court documents, Bishop Kicanas is mentioned in at least two cases: They involved Father Daniel McCormack and Father Russ Romano.

Lawyers say Bishop Kicanas was one of many Catholic Church leaders involved in a massive cover-up related to the priest sex-abuse cases.

In the Father McCormack case, court documents state Bishop Kicanas was aware of the allegations against McCormack but still supported his ordination to become a priest.  In an interview with the Sun-Times in 2007, Kicanas is quoted as saying, "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 his experience.  I was more concerned about his drinking.  We sent him to counseling for that." 

McCormack was ordained as a priest in 1994, where court documents state he went on to abuse more than a dozen other young boys.

While Kicanas said he could not discuss that case with us today, he did talk to the Catholic World News about his statements, in 2010. 

In a report filed in the Catholic World News, Bishop Kicanas said he had never heard reports that Daniel McCormack had been guilty of sexual abuse when he supervised McCormack's study at Mundelein seminary.

Bishop Kicanas said his words had been taken out of context in the Sun-Times story.  In the Catholic World News article, Kicanas said, "I would never defend endorsing McCormack's ordination if I had any knowledge or concern  that he might be a danger to anyone. I had no such knowledge or concern."

Bishop Kicanas was willing to talk about the case of Father Russ Romano, also accused of child sex abuse. Although Romano was never formally charged, he was removed from the church shortly after the allegations came to light.

In a page titled "Confidential notes on Russ Romano" released to the media as part of the 6,000 pages of reports, it states: "I spoke to Jerry Kicanas and he suggested a two-part approach to Russ:  First, express concern for Russ and his personal problems, and second, to make it very clear that the drinking, movies, hugs, and kisses with our students must stop immediately."

The diocese released a two-page press release to Tucson News Now in regards to the Russ Romano case.

The press release states:

"In the Russ Romano case, Bishop - who had been a teacher and later the rector of Quigley seminary South from 1970 to December 1984 - was asked by the next rector of Quigley Seminary South, Father John Klein, about how to respond to concerns received about Romano.

In no official capacity, Kicanas, after hearing the information provided by Father Klein, made suggestions to Klein that he address the Romano concerns immediately.  At that point in time, it was up to Klein to handle any allegations at Quigley South.

Until yesterday, Bishop Kicanas had never seen the documents in which his name appears.  It is clear that those documents are not written as transcripts, but rather as recollections, and the information about his conversation with Father Klein do not match the Bishop's memory of the situation.

Even the order of events and when information was known is contradictory within the documents.

Had the severity of Romano's behavior been known and told to Bishop when Klein called for advice, Bishop would have suggested that Father Klein take more forcible action, but that information was not conveyed to Kicanas and it is not clear that it was known at the time. "

Bishop Kicanas and a diocese spokeswoman said they would not give Tucson News Now any interviews in the future on any subject, unless we kept the Father McCormack story out of our report, as they felt it was unfair to the Bishop. 

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