Last week I tweeted a link to a story concerning Tucson Bishop Gerald Kicanas and his possible election as head of the USCCB, he is currently the Vice President.
Today Tim Drake is commenting on this story. For those unaware of the story, when Bishop Kicanas while rectory of a seminary ordained a sexual abuser even though he was already aware at the time of allegations regarding this. The priest involved, Daniel McCormack, went on to abuse as many as 23 boys and went to prison in 2007.
Asked about it, Bishop Kicanas essentially said that he would do it again.
“It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained him,” Bishop Kicanas said shortly after being elected as vice president of the USCCB, in a quote that appears in the deposition of Cardinal Francis George. “There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience,” continued Bishop Kicanas. “I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that.”
I guess hindsight is not always 20/20 after all. Grossly unfair to not ordain a priest who abused so many boys? Not exactly contrition for the role he played.
There’s been speculation that there’s an unspoken practice that the election of the body’s president follows an alternating pattern, as if the body were somehow trying to balance two wings of parliament.
The Church, however, is not parliament.
If there is some unspoken rule, it’s one that should be dismissed. The words “liberal” or “conservative”, “progressive” or “orthodox” cannot truly describe the Church or those in it. If such a practice is taking place with the election of the USCCB’s president, it must be rejected, embracing instead presiding USCCB president Cardinal Francis George’s “simply Catholicism.”
When the bishops gather next week, they have an opportunity to show that elections do matter. It would be best if they met behind closed doors and outside the purview of the media, held an honest conversation not about the voting practice of the previous era, but about who is the best person to lead the brotherhood of bishops at this time and place, and then voted accordingly.
If the Bishop is elected then the USCCB will be shown to be more of an ole boys club than shepherds concerned about their flock. Collegiality in practice seems to mean turning a blind eye.