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Catholic conservatives vs. Bishop Kicanas. (UPDATED)

Next week the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will elect its next president. According to custom, the current vice president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson--considered a Bernardin bishop and therefore more liberal--will likely win the presidency. That has some Catholic conservatives up in arms, such asTim Drake, of the Legion of Christ-owned National Catholic Register and Faith and Family Magazine. Citing articles posted to the Web site of WBEZ (Chicago's NPR affiliate), the conservative news outlet Spero News, and a Boston-based Catholic blog, Drake argues that Kicanas is unfit for the office of USCCB president because of his role in the tragic case of the admitted molester Daniel McCormack, now laicized and jailed (I wrote about him here):

If he isnt elected, the story will be why the bishops parted with recent practice. If he is elected, the story will be how the bishops treat their own, and the message the bishops are sending to society about their willingness to prevent sexual abuse.

Kicanas was rector of Mundelein seminary when McCormack studied there. A 2006 diocesan audit found that in 1992, Mundelein officials learned of three accusations of misconduct against McCormack, two from adult seminary classmates (one from McCormack's previous seminary, then called Niles College), and one reportedly from a minor in Mexico. The records of those allegations, along with their details, were never found. Two years later, McCormack was ordained.

In 2007, Kicanas told was quoted in the Chicago Sun-Times saying that he was aware of three allegations of "sexual improprieties" against McCormack, but that they were not "credible," therefore it would have been unjust to deny him ordination. "There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience," Kicanas reportedly said. explained. The story said he was "more concerned" about McCormack's drinking problem. "We sent him to counseling for that." Finally, the article reported that Kicanas disagreed that McCormack never should have been ordained: "I dont think there was anything I could have done differently." (See update below.)

It's that last quote that Drake believes disqualifies Kicanas. The Spero News op-ed is titled, "Catholic Bishops to Elect Enabler of Child Molester as National Leader," and, according to Drake, "If Bishop Kicanas is elected its likely to strain the USCCBs credibility." Perhaps. But, just as I haven't seen many liberal Catholic outlets complaining about the ascension of Kicanas to the USCCB presidency, I don't recall reading any stories in the National Catholic Register or Zenit warning the U.S. bishops that electing Cardinal Francis George as their president in 2007 would have dire consequences for the credibility of the USCCB (the Spero op-ed Drake links to does refer to George's role in the McCormack case). Which is strange, because in October '05, Cardinal George's own sexual-abuse review board recommended removing McCormack from ministry, and the cardinal refused to do so. McCormack wasn't removed from ministry until January '06. As victims attorney Marc Pearlman told NPR, "I just don't know...how many kids were abused between the fall of 2005 and January of 2006, when he was finally removed."

Two subsequent audits of archdiocesan sexual-abuse policies revealed a system replete with appalling and obvious shortcomings. What's amazing is that more abusive priests didn't fall through its cracks. One audit found that archdiocesan officials had likely broken Illinois law by failing to report and investigate a 2003 allegation against McCormack. The same audit judged the archdiocese in violation of the USCCB's own sexual-abuse policies, adopted in '02.

I won't defend Kicanas's reported claim that there was nothing he could have done differently in the McCormack case. Now we know he had a serial child molester for a seminarian. Obviously, not ordaining McCormack would have been better; but would it have stopped him from abusing? Do we know enough about what Kicanas knew to call him an "enabler"? Did Mundelein officials "enable" McCormack's crimes any more than George's decision not to follow the advice of his sexual-abuse review board? In other words, if Kicanas's critics really believe his election to the presidency of the USCCB will strain the bishops' credibility, after George's election, what do they think is left of it?

Update: The Register has posted a response from Bishop Kicanas in which he corrects the quotes attributed to him in the Sun-Times story I mention above (read the whole thing). It's full of important clarifications. Key passages:

I would never defend endorsing McCormacks ordination if I had had any knowledge or concern that he might be a danger to anyone, and I had no such knowledge or concern. At no time while McCormack was a seminarian at Mundelein did I receive any allegation of pedophilia or child molestation against him. I never received any allegation, report or concern about McCormack during his seminary years at Mundelein that involved sexual abuse of anyone. Prior to ordination, each students readiness for ordination was discussed at length by seminary administrators, faculty, and the diocesan bishop. Furthermore, McCormack was evaluated, as was every seminarian, each of his four years by faculty and students who were given the opportunity to endorse or not endorse his continuing in the seminary. No student, nor faculty, nor anyone, ever negatively commented on McCormack in all the endorsements he received. With the harm that he has done to children and to families, it is tragic that he was ordained. Would that he had never been ordained.(...)

McCormick was in the seminary for 12 years before ordination. At the high school and college seminary, no concerns, to my knowledge, were ever raised about him. From all reports, he was a good student, a good athlete and was most cooperative.

While McCormack was at Mundelein, a student commented to his counselor that when they were in Mexico studying Spanish, McCormick had been in a bar where they had been drinking and that as they were leaving the bar, McCormack had in public patted a person on the behind over clothing. When the counselor reported that to us, McCormack was called in and was asked to give an explanation. His explanation was exactly as was reported to the counselor by the other seminarian. Neither account indicated any sexual act or intention.

In the course of that discussion, McCormack revealed that while at the college several years before he had had two consensual sexual experiences with peers while they were drinking. He assured us that he had worked this through with his spiritual director and that he wanted to live a celibate life.

Nevertheless, because of the seriousness of his admission about behavior that had occurred in his past, he was sent for extensive evaluation to determine if he could live a celibate life and if there was any concern about his affective maturity. That evaluation indicated that the nature of the experiences he had related was experimental and developmental, although it indicated that drinking might be a concern because the experiences involved drinking. He was further evaluated to determine if there were any alcohol issues.

In reviewing his readiness for ordination, to our knowledge he never had any sexual activity with anyone during his four years at Mundelein, giving confidence that he actually did and could live a commitment to celibacy. While he was at Mundelein, no allegation or report or concern of sexual abuse of anyone was ever made against McCormack.

Read the rest here.

(H/T, rather amazingly, Andrew Sullivan.)

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That Drake piece is as good an example of concern trolling as I've ever seen.

Grant - for some reason the WBEZ link isn't working for me. Is this the story you're linking? http://www.wbez.org/story/undefined/sex-abuse-lurks-behind-catholic-elec...

Sorry, fixed.

Um, isn't this a bit rich coming from the NCRegister? Their legacy of scandal and covering for child rape is pretty legendary, and well-documented. From what I've heard, there are some bishops who have reservations about Kicanas on some adminsitrative matters, but such distinctions won't make Drake's analysis. It would be remarkable if Kicanas were not elected president, and I think a repudiation of his Bernardinesque DNA as much as anything. (Remember, bishops NEVER criticize other bishops -- unless the bishop in question is advocating from common ground or other heresies.) Traditionally, the race to watch is for VP, and the list is interesting, and the vote tallies will be telling, as they are very different personalities:

Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond of New OrleansBishop Stephen E. Blaire of Stockton, CaliforniaArchbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM, Cap., of DenverArchbishop Timothy M. Dolan of New YorkBishop Gerald F. Kicanas of Tucson, ArizonaArchbishop Joseph E. Kurtz of Louisville, KentuckyBishop George Murry, SJ, of Youngstown, OhioArchbishop Edwin F. OBrien of BaltimoreArchbishop Allen H. Vigneron of DetroitBishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City

Wish I could be there, but I'll have to leave the field to Rocco. The other dirty secret, or not so dirty, and not so secret, is that getting bishops to run for conference offices is not easy. I mean, who would want it? My impression is that bishops will be happy to have someone less than a cardinal, and other than Francis George, leading the USCCB.

There is no such thing as a transmission system for Bernardinesque DNA. If there was a system Fulton Sheen's and Roncalli's DNA were overlooked and a wasted opportunity. . I'll take Bishop John Wester, Salt Lake; he was trained by retired A/B John R. Quinn, SanFrancisco

Can we just forget about the idealogies and politics...for once! The question remains...what kind of message will Bishop Kicanas' election send about the seriousness with which the USCCB is approaching sexual abuse?!For the good of the church, he should humbly remove his name from the vote. Fair or not, it would be a courageous and noble thing to do...and a blessing for the church.

Angela, in light of your concerns, why hasn't there been a move for Cardinal George to resign given the far greater seriousness of his problems in that regard? This seems to have become a sudden concern about Kicanas. Why?And who would you back?

It is one thing to resign while in office...it is another to not put your name forward for the highest profile position within the Catholic Church in one the largest countries of the world...in the midst of a terrible crisis! I am certainly not suggesting that Bishop Kicanas resign...just humbly step aside from this advancement for the good of the church. As to who should be in the leadership position...I haven't a clue.David, with due respect for your obvious talents and passion...sometimes you make me crazy in how you always see the church as two groups of competing factions. This could be an act to help with UNITY, which ought to be a goal for all of us...in fact, the Lord demands it!

Could it be that you are so blind to see the lethal combination of Kicanas' arrogance and poor judgment to say it would be grossly unfair to hold a man back who would eventually get raping children out of his system and he would do the same thing all over again?It is a new low to paint Tim Drake as some kind of pedophile enabler while making excuses for the real pedophile enabler.

The moral of the story is prelates can get away with anything so long as the person raising a concern is viewed as orthodox. For the record, I have been asking Bishop's Accountabity to join people raising concerns about Bishop Kicanas, which even they have the decency to agree demonstrates the man should recuse himself from taking a leadership position at the USCCB. However, after getting some advice from "SNAP", they have decided they are not interested in taking an action to protect children from the re-emergency of the cult of the good old boy pedophile shuffler network. They see the election of Kicanas as a golden opportunity for some new some publicity stunts for themselves. The potential to see more damage done was a better strategy to get their press releases all ready for their gig. It was really never about the children was it. It is about how sizing up the situation to see who the "conservatives" are and how much damage can be done. Even if it means advancing a man who sees raping children as learning experiences that will eventually work itself out.

Angela, I think we both have the same passion for the same goal of unity, but I see your option as working against that unity, in fact. I'm sure you'd see it differently. But I think Carol McKinley's comments above might be evidence bolstering my reading.

Ok, I think we need to find a new leader. Bishop Kicanas was irresponsible for ordaining McCormick and should have turned over his evidence to the police. Child molestation is not a church but police matter. I realize the church has a long history of autonomy regarding discipline of the clergy, but even the great church reformer Peter Damian believed that accused pedophiles should be placed in a monastery under heavy guard for the rest of their life.http://historywasneverlikethat.blogspot.com/

Carol McKinley,Here's what's going to happen: you're going to tone it down or your comments and possibly your account will be removed.

Theresa and the rest: what do you think you know about what Kicanas knew?

"It would have been grossly unfair not to ordain him...There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he learned from the experience...I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that."So "the activity" was considered to be part of the developmental process? Sounds like someone who does not understand that "the activity" including the desire to engage in "the activity" is not part of a healthy and Holy developmental process. I am wondering if the bishop contributed to "Always Our Children", or simply supports this erroneous document.

A common message from USCCB members has been that the abuse problem is past, it wasn't really the responsibility of bishops because of their ignorance and being mislead by experts, and they have more important problems to address. (See their public agenda for the week www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2010/10-178.shtml ) . George's tenure in spite of "his problems" supports the view. The Kicanas uproar is a tempest in a teapot about the preferred form of embarrassment to be endured by outsiders. Better he should be elected and the fate of the USCCB be purified as it must be in the turmoil that will inevitably follow. Otherwise, the same fruitless haggling (see above) will drag on for years while the potentially important organization fades into obscurity.

The National Catholic Register has published an rebuttal by Bishop Kicanas (in response to questions by Tim Drake) in which he states that he was never told by anyone that the seminarian in question was either sexually active while in seminary or accused of the sexual abuse of a child. Kicansas states that the incident that roused concern was consensual sex with an adult while drinking several years before McCormack entered seminary. Here's the whole piece:http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/bishop-kicanas-responds?utm_source=...

Jack, why not begin the purification sooner, rather then later:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_J._ChaputMy message to the USCCB as a liberal conservative Catholic is simply to "Be Not Afraid".

Updates above. Thanks, Sherry.

"The question remainswhat kind of message will Bishop Kicanas election send about the seriousness with which the USCCB is approaching sexual abuse?!"Angela, you ask that question in a way that suggests that it answers itself. But in light of what Grant has reported here, including, importantly, Bishop Kicanis' subsequent clarifications, I suggest that the answer isn't self-evident. What is your answer to your own question: what is the message, and why?

Nancy - Important question. My answer is that there is no "Boston Globe" working on the situation to induce "purification" soon. A flood of blogging gigabytes has no leverage and is not likely to cause the USCCB to be afraid or even attentive.

The Bishop's clarifications do not address Cardinal George's deposition that reveals there was evidence Bishop Kicanas was aware. Anyone care to follow that lead?Frankly, I'm curious to know why there is a reference to activity 'outside the Sacrament of confession'. Do I understand this to mean that if priests confess pedophilia he can protect himself from retribution until or unless a victim comes forward?I am pretty sure this is how the Sacrament of Confession works. Peculiar it is mentioned in the Bishop's rebuttal. Why bring it up at all? Let us take it to the lowest common denominator - Bishop Kicanas says he had a seminarian on his hands with a problem with a noted problem with booze and a confirmed instance that the booze made him lose his inhibitions and have an inappropriate sexual encounter.I am trying to understand this. Is there someone here that believes this vindicates his judgment and discretion?

Did the Bishop ever find out the age of what the seminarian referred to as 'peers' in these encounters?This still raises many questions in my mind and is going to put the scandal right front and center again while we flush out the answers.

Here are some more questions I have that I would be most interested in hearing insight on:The revelation of these sexual encounters with 'peers' (of unknown age) came when a complaint was brought forward that he inappropriately was patting another man's backside at a bar. But drunken innappropriate sexual encounters had all been worked out with his spiritual advisor, the seminarian said.Well then, what was he doing in the Bishop's office explaining why he was in barroom patting somebody's bum bum?Why did 23 more victims have to come forward before the Bishop supervised the man given this history?

"Im curious to know why there is a reference to activity outside the Sacrament of confession. The confessional seal is absolute. Horrible crimes that are confessed under that seal cannot be revealed by the priest hearing the confession, for example to police, prosecutors, the media or superiors, under any circumstances whatever. (Priests or others with more expertise than me can of course qualify my statement, but I believe that in essence it is correct).In seminary, I'd think this raises important issues. Seminaries are run by priests, whose roles may include confessor, spiritual director, and/or administrator. It seems to me that it's important that a seminarian's spiritual director *not* be his confessor, and that the rector and other administrators *not* be the seminarian's confessor. The latter should be obvious: if McCormack had confessed sexual impropriety to Kicanis under the seal of the confessional, then Kicanis would have been powerless to do what, in his role as rector, he would have been obligated to do.Spiritual direction, to my mind, is a gray area in this respect. My experience with spiritual direction is that confidentiality is promised to the one being directed. Is that confidentiality as absolute as the seal of the confessional? I'd think not. Yet, if the promise of confidentiality can't be taken seriously by the one under direction, then important issues which need to be addressed - such as an attraction to abusive sexual behavior - may never come up. But then, if such things do come up - what is the spiritual director supposed to do about it? Cure him? Report him?

Carol,I can't quite grasp what you see as a problem. Kicanas appears to me to have addressed all of the concerns about his handling of McCormack, except perhaps for a 2nd or 3rd hand account of 3 "incidents" while M was at Mundelein. These incidents may have been the 3 allegations about a single incident in Mexico, or that incident plus two 'experiments' before Mundelein. K explicitly states "to our knowledge he never had any sexual activity with anyone during his four years at Mundelein", which directly contradicts what has been represented as Cardinal George's testimony. If there is a contradiction between that remark and G's testimony, it should be clarified, but I think it more likely that inaccuracies have crept in in the reporting on G's testimony."Peer" is the important term in the comments on M's "experiments" in college. It asserts that M and his partner were a> close in age and b> not in a dominance relationship like that of priest/child or teacher/student. Such relationships are very different from pedophile relations. K considered these peer relations, and I am not sure there was a reason to question that.The Sacrament of Reconciliation came up when K was describing how allegations of sexual activity are generally handled, when K was making the point that M was treated as any student would have been. It does not mean someone who confesses faces no consequences, only that he faces no direct consequences from administrators. The seal of the confessional means it remains within that relationship, but that is probably more consequential than any administrative burden or threat. But I doubt that this was directly relevant to this case.

Jim,Thank you for your kind response - which I agree with, actually.But, I am deeply concerned about the use of it in the Bishop's rebuttal. It almost seems to me to be an inoculation (...which of course, in the strictest sense, it is?) But the placement of it just doesn't sit right with me. If it is a seal then you don't put it out in front as your golden parachute and then go on to do your 'splainin. I can say that I wholeheartedly value the seal of confession and the seal is the seal. And I agree that if these crimes were and are confessed, there is nothing that can be done. However, there are ways to watch him more carefully because surely, outside of the confessional, some consequences of his problem are going to manifest themselves.Excluding any presumption that the seal of confession is involved, here we have a Bishop with a seminarian in his office trying to explain why he's in a barroom inappropriately touching somebody on the fanny and he explains he has a past history of losing his inhibitions sexually when he's tanked up.Common sense would tell you that this problem is still on the table. But even if you were willing to get beyond this, closer supervision was a basic duty of this Bishop. Twenty-three people later you have the audacity to say it would have been "grossly unfair" not to have recognized the signs there was a major problem before ordaining him? Nothing you would have done differently, as in closely supervising him before 23 people were victimized?It is not acceptable and the one thing we should all agree on is that any of the ten names on that list for President and Vice President going forward should have zero history of such poor judgments, whether they are advising people sleeping around is virtue or whether they are leading them into a state of grace. The pulse of their doctrine should have absolutely nothing to do with it.

"Let us take it to the lowest common denominator Bishop Kicanas says he had a seminarian on his hands with a problem with a noted problem with booze and a confirmed instance that the booze made him lose his inhibitions and have an inappropriate sexual encounter. I am trying to understand this. Is there someone here that believes this vindicates his judgment and discretion?"Let's look at what we know. As reported by Kicanis, there were two sets of improprieties:* When McCormack was an undergraduate (i.e. not under Kicanis' supervision), he seemed to have had some boozy, consensual sex on a couple of occasions, as is wont to occur among college undergraduates,at least when I was in college. Presumably, both McCormack and his partner(s) were not minors (i.e. they were college students); it was consensual; and so a reasonable construal based on what is reported here is that whatever this was, it wasn't sexual abuse. Depending on the timeline, it could have happened seven or eight years before Kicanis learned about it. It seems that McCormack successfully positioned it as a couple of isolated instances of youthful experimentation.* He patted someone on the ass in a bar in Mexico. Even though he wasn't physically in Mundelein at the time, he was a seminarian and so under Kicanis' supervision. But patting someone on the dupa is open to all sorts of interpretations. Football and baseball players do it to each other all the time (remember, McCormack was a jock). We're not told here whether the recipient was a male or female, minor or adult, and whether it was a playful swat or a surreptitious fondle. Even it was the latter ... without defending it, I'd have to say that all of us have heard of much, much worse things that clerics have done. Frankly, I'm impressed that the seminary took it as seriously as it seems to. Even so, I doubt that McCormack would have had much trouble explaining it away.I don't know if any of this vindicates Kicanis' "judgement and discretion". But please, please remember this: you're looking at these events through the prism of knowledge of 23 subsequent instances of alleged sexual abuse of minors. Kicanis didn't have those facts at the time. McCormack seems to have been the kind of guy to whom most people were apt to extend the benefit of the doubt.

Carol and Angela --I can sympathize with both your positions. Obviously, the bishops' actions as a group have not been totally adequate given the fact that they have never protested formally and publicly Cardinal Law's continued exercise of immense power in the Church. But it does seems that many if not most bishops are willing to learn from their terrible past judgments about individual abusersd. That's what I have to keep reminding myself -- that there is more to their ministry than keeping perverts from children, and most of them probably aren't total human failures, but rather individuals called on to make very difficult judgements when they had not been treaied to do so. So I have to stop thinking of them as generally wicked. Some bishops certainly seem to be genuinely contrite, so now is the time to make more nuanced judgments of them and on an individual basis.We have to ask: is this individual's terrible judgment likely to last? . In the case of Bishop Kikanas I don't know enough to answer the question. Did he actually *know* from the beginning that that priest had actually raped a child? Is this the sort of behavior he is still excusing in himself? If so, he is a man of incorrigibly bad judgment and should not lead the hierarchy. So what are the facts of the chain of his behavior? Anybody know?Even if we get an answer to that question about the one abuser, it seems to me that another and more important question remains: is Bishop Kikanas (or any of the candidates for president of the group) willing to complain publicly to Rome about the position of C. Law? That to me would be the only sure sign that the candidate is on the side of the children.

Jim,Putting aside the conflict of facts that Cardinal George testified that Bishop Kicanas knew, it isn't quite as simple as saying the boozing led to sleeping around with a 'peer'. The man was trying to claim he was cured of his inappropriate sexual encounters while standing in the Bishop's office explaining why the Bishop received a complaint of his inappropriate touching in a barroom. Helloooooooooo.

Ann,There's more to a Cardinal's role than keeping abusers from children - yes of course - but if they don't have the judgment to do it or they won't do it, going forward, we should all be on the same page that these individuals are not to be considered for leadership roles.Cardinal Law has nothing to do with this equation. If the people right now have a history of being told a priest or fellow bishop for that matter has a problem with booze and when he drinks, he looks around for people to sexually experiment with or touch inappropriately - and they ignore those warning signs until 23 people later -- he should be off any list to advance into a leadership role. He should have the decency to recuse himself.

Carol McKinley: Have you read the deposition? Where does Cardinal George make claims about what Bishop Kicanas knew? Also, you refer to "these crimes." What do you mean by that?

Certainly, nobody on any side of anything should be taking the pulse of his doctrinal convictions and coming up with lame excuses for them.

http://www.childprotectionprogram.org/newsletter/vol6_iss7.htmlThe Reverend John Canary was vice rector of Mundelein Seminary when McCormack was studying for the priesthood. Mundelein officials learned in 1992 about sexual accusations against McCormack involving two adult males and a minor. The incidents began in 1988 when McCormack was at a seminary school known as Niles College, where Canary previously worked, according to archdiocesan reports. Canary said the allegations were noted in seminary records, which then "disappeared." Canary later became seminary rector. In 2006, he was appointed vicar general, a position that became open when Rassas was elevated to auxiliary bishop.While rector of Mundelein Seminary in the 1990s, Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas says he knew about three reports of "sexual improprieties" against then-seminarian Daniel McCormack. Still, Kicanas supported McCormack's ordination, he recently told the Sun-Times. "It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him," Kicanas said. "There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience.

"I am trying to understand this. Is there someone here that believes this vindicates his judgment and discretion?"Carol --ISTM this is the important question at this point in history: are our ecclesiastical leaders men of real discretion and good judgment? Are they such individually *and* as a group?

"it isnt quite as simple as saying the boozing led to sleeping around with a peer. "Carol - "it"? What isn't quite as simple?

Jim P. --Thanks for the informative post. Isn't the seal of Confession a matter of Church law? As such, couldn't it be revised? How to revise it wisely would be a different question.The history of the Church is full of such scandals. I wonder if the seal of Confession is a fundamental part of the problem.

Ann,I once spoke with a former Protestant minister, a convicted pedophile, who made the opposite point. He said that having no one to talk to confidentially about his temptations was part of the complex of factors leading up to his acting on them.

Carol: Do you think you've answered my question? Cardinal George did not make any claims about what Kicanas knew. The lawyer quoted the Defenbaugh audit and the Sun-Times story--which Kicanas is now refuting. You don't have your facts straight.

Carol - that snippet about Canary, other than an exercise in insinuation, is supposed to demonstrate what, exactly? And it relates to Kicanis, how?Certainly, I'm not surprised that Grant's post provides an expedient dumping ground to rehash, yet again, all of the McCormack dirt. I don't see, though, that the volume of recycling is adding to our knowledge of Bishop Kicanis.Nor have I seen any mention so far of his handling of the abuse cases he inherited in Tucson. If we are assessing his fitness for the post, surely that is germane? Arguably, it's much more important than his dealings with a single seminarian many years ago.

"Isnt the seal of Confession a matter of Church law? As such, couldnt it be revised?"Yes, it is church law, and perhaps it could be revised. For my sake, I hope it never is!

Blaming this on the Sacramental Seal of Confession is ludicrous. As Kathy mentions, the seal leads people to confess temptations and obtain the Sacramental grace to avoid acting on temptations. A lifted seal is only going to keep more people from the Sacrament of Grace thereby increasing incidents like this one. http://www.bishop-accountability.org/depo/2008_01_30_Cardinal_Francis_Ge..., as the testimony in the deposition reflects (and linked at bishop's accountability - enjoy the reading) the vice rector of the seminary said the allegations were right in his seminary record and that he was very disturbed to see that they 'disappeared' when Bp. Kicanas was the rector.Gee, I wonder what happened to it? So many questions.Does the disappearance of the allegations in the seminary record, Cardinal George and everyone else's testimony which conflict with the assertions in the Bp Kicanas' rebuttal put into perspective why the meeting after the buttocks rubbing in the barroom and the subsequent revelation in that meeting that something goes awry in his pants when he drinks give any more clarity to the lack of supervision 23 victims later?Bishop Kicanas wasn't even interested in reading the deposition to this day -even before he had this rebuttal published. The more you look into it, the curiouser and curiouser it gets.

"Cardinal Law has nothing to do with this equation."Carol --It seems to me that our greatest practical problem now is not the abuse -- the greatest problem is the coverups and the maintenance in power of those bishops who were the worst offenders. Until they are accused of their cover-ups *publicly* and removed from their offices we cannot be confident that *any* of our bishops have truly changed, and that includes the Pope. Until the American bishops as a group speak out against Cardinal Law publicly we just don't really know where they stand when push comes to shove -- with the clergy or the children.And so the scandal continues.

Jim P. --As a counsellor I'm sure you have some interesting insights on the seal. Would you care to share some of your concerns? It is my understanding that in courts of law other clergymen besides Catholic ones sometimes claim the right to keep silent about confessions. It is my understanding that their claims too have been upheld by the courts. However, though psychiatrists used to have that privilege of confidentiality, in California, at least, they no longer do when it concerns murder and other high crimes. This obviously deserves a whole thread or two or three. Sigh.

Blaming what on the seal of confession? Who blames anything on the seal of confession? "Cardinal George and everyone else's testimony"? What are you talking about? The supposed "accusations" turned up in an interview with Canary conducted in the course of an audit of the McCormack case. Kicanas's version conflicts with Canary's. You may choose not to believe him, but the level of detail is clarifying. I'm afraid you don't have a command of the facts in this case.

Many states that now mandate reporting of child abuse do not make an exception for the priest/penitent relationship or other religious counselors and clients. As far as I know, there has never been a case in which a priest has been in trouble with the law because of reporting requirements. The only privileged communication universally recognized is attorney/client.

Kathy -- You make the very strong defense that the seal has always merited. But there is another side, I think. A psychiatrist I know now grants that it's a good law that requires psychiatrists to report murderers to the State. It is also true that counsellors can persuade miscreants *not* to do evil acts they are contemplating doing, which is also a very great advantage of the seal.Complexity, complexity.Maybe I should add here that Abp. Aymond, who is also up for president of the NCCB, has also recently been the subject of a probe into past abuse in this diocese. The issue is whether or not the names of some abusers from many years ago should be released at this time. He says he has released the names of those abusers who were still a threat, but will not release the names of those who are no longer a threat. (Some of them are even dead.) SNAP, on the other hand, says he ought to release all of the names because there might be victims out there who did not realize that they were not the only victims. That alone could be a great kindness to them. Apparently it is a terrible thing for some children when they think that they have been the only victims -- some even wonder if they have caused the priest to sin.Will this never end.

Will this never end?Certainly not for a while as long as we have division, lack of transparency and an underappreciation of victim problems.I'm not sure babout Kicanas being uninformed, but I also think atacks from the right against certain "liberal" bishops (as happened to Bishop Hubbard a while back, are no tsolely motivated by concern for victims.And so it will go on....

In terms of the seal of Confession, this falls under the freedom of religion, this falls under the freedom of religion. Some above are suggesting the 'seal' is the fix for the 'problem'. But the 'problem' is ordaining pedophiles who actually demonstrate and tell their superiors they have a problem keeping their pants on and Bishops who not only go ahead and ordain them but fail to supervise them until dozens of victims start crawling out of the woodwork. Compounding the problem are people in the pews who make excuses for them.I have read enough testimony to raise major questions and concerns about what he knew and when he knew it and what he did or did not do. There are several seminary officials who make clear in their testimony that the allegations were known and in fact documented in the seminarians file. Those documents subsequently disappeared.In terms of what Bp. Kicanas says he read or knows about the Cardinal's deposition, here's what he said:"I have not read nor do I know any details about the Cardinals deposition.."After all these years, he has not bothered to find out what was said or even what went wrong. I'm sure to some people, this makes him a regular crackerjack for the role of President of the USCCB. I wasn't expecting the peace and justice people or victim's advocates to be among them.Here's some direct compelling testimony:Q. Wasn't it Kicanas?A. I had thought that Father Kicanas was the Rector.Q. Okay. And it goes on to state of the seminary identified that three distinct allegations of sexual misconduct of both adults and of a minor on the part of Father McCormack were brought to the attention of the seminary officials in the spring quarter of 1992. The former Vice Rector recalls [page 96 begins] that these allegations were documented to Father McCormack's file. Have you seen that documentation?A. Only the memo that the Vice Rector wrote at the time. I have not seen the original. And that came to my attention in January of 2006. I remember reading it and being very disturbed by it.Q. And what was it that was in it that disturbed you?A. What you've just read, sir.Q. The memo reflected that there had been multiple allegations of sexual misconduct by McCormack in seminary, correct?A. I believe there were only two when he was a college seminarian and then the immediate incidents of misconduct when he was in Mexico which was the only time there was any indication about a minor. The others were sexual misconduct with his peers in the seminary, I believe.Q. So that would be three involving minors and there's some other adults?A. No. One. I'm sorry, sir. One involving a minor.

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