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Tucson Diocese Installs New Bishop

March 08, 2003|From a Times Staff Writer

Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas was formally installed Friday as head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson at a time when his predecessor has been criticized for his handling of sexual abuse cases.

Kicanas, 61, succeeds Bishop Manuel D. Moreno, 72, as head of the 350,000-member diocese. Moreno, who led the diocese for 21 years, is retiring three years before the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Moreno is the sixth U.S. Catholic bishop to resign since the sexual abuse scandal erupted anew in early 2002.

Two of the bishops who have resigned were accused of sexually abusing minors.

Two others said they had sexual relations with either an adult man or a woman, and two -- Moreno and Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston -- resigned after criticism of their handling of the scandal.

Fred Allison, a spokesman for the Tucson Diocese, said Friday he could not say whether Moreno's retirement was connected with complaints over how the bishop handled local sexual abuse cases.

Last year, however, the Tucson Diocese paid an estimated $15 million to settle lawsuits brought by 10 men who claimed they were sexually abused by priests in the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Kicanas has not ruled out filing for bankruptcy because of the cost of settlements, counseling and other legal costs.

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