Monday, November 15, 2010

The (So-Called) Kicanas Conundrum

Years ago, when I (occasionally) wrote for the Arlington Catholic Herald, I suggested to the editor, that an interesting feature could be written of our bishop at the annual bishops' conference meeting, then held every November in Washington; what the role of the conference was, our own bishop's role while there, including committee meetings and other appointments. The idea never went anywhere. One can only speculate; either he didn't like being followed around, or he was afraid of what we'd find out. I dunno.

They moved the meeting to Baltimore a few years ago, ostensibly as Baltimore was what would otherwise be known as "the primatial see" -- that is, the original seat of a diocese in what is now the United States of America. (Actually, it was more likely a cost-cutting measure.) Whatever the reason, the meeting started today. Among the items on the agenda tomorrow, is the election of executive officers for the next three years. It has long been the practice, that the incumbent vice-president of the bishops' conference is the one elected to be president.

And that, quoth the Bard, is the rub.

The Most Reverend Gerald Kicanas is the bishop of Tucson, Arizona. According to the National Catholic Register, while seminary rector of Mundelein in Chicago, he enabled the ordination of Daniel McCormack, a young man with a known history of homosexual encounters, who went on to become a serial sex abuser. And what did our heir apparent have to say for himself? Look no further than his deposition, as quoted in the Register:

It would have been grossly unfair not to have ordained [McCormack]. There was a sense that his activity was part of the developmental process and that he had learned from the experience. I was more concerned about his drinking. We sent him to counseling for that. I don’t think there was anything I could have done differently.

This despite a 1961 Vatican document, warning against ordaining men with same-sex attraction, and which has gained considerably more attention in recent years. Further, his taking exception to the Register's coverage, as well as's analysis of his legalistic finagling, casts even more doubt on his judgment and (uh, sorry, Your Immenseness, but it really comes down to your) character.

Over the last several weeks, faithful Catholics on the internet have mobilized to urge their bishops not to elect Kicanas to the top position, citing the potential for scandal that would be caused by such imprudent decisions as those which he has made. Their effort is an important one, one which the bishops would be wise to heed. Such an appointment to the presidency would be the worst decision they could possibly make, one that will bite them all in the hindquarters for years to come.

So, here's why they're tempted to do it anyway.

It could probably be shown that more than one third of the nation's bishops should be charged with aiding and abetting of felons, once they run out of excuses, or lawyers, or both. Placed against that standard, Kicanas isn't exactly smelling like a rose. But he realizes he has plenty of company, and that the vice-president of the bishops' conference is a shoe-in for the presidency, after three years as number two. For his confreres to suddenly listen to the faithful, and do the right thing at his expense, would not go over well with him. He just might not take it very well.

And what then? Possibly what this writer predicted earlier this year.

Sooner or later, they will run out of whipping boys. I predict that in the coming decade, bishops will no longer limit themselves to turning on their priests, but will begin to turn on one another.

What better catalyst for such a collective hissy-fit than for such a visible appointment to slip from one's grasp?

It is difficult enough for most of us to do the right thing. How much more so, in that venue where the Evil One is working overtime, and can do the most damage? That is why we are calling upon all readers of man with black hat in our first-time-ever, very special “Big-@$$ Spiritual Bouquet” initiative. Over the course of tomorrow morning, while at his day job, and trying not to look too obvious, yours truly will be praying the entire Rosary, all fifteen decades of it (and, no, there are not twenty, I'll explain later), to help in the spiritual fortification of the nation's shepherds, especially his own. Let others among the vast mwbh readership do the same tomorrow morning, especially for their own. Together, we just might be able to rally the Communion of Angels and Saints, to knock some sense into those guys' heads.

Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, pray for them.

UPDATE: CNN reports that Kicanas "rejected allegations he allowed the ordination of a priest who went on to abuse children." In other words, what he said in the deposition. Meanwhile, in a suprisingly balanced piece (because somebody had to, right?), NPR gives both sides of the man's story.

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