Late Tucson Bishop Moreno struggled to defrock 2 priests

This story was the lead on page one in the 4.1.2010 edition of the Arizona Daily Star, Tucson’s principal newspaper.

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Moreno struggled to defrock 2 priests

Was seen as poor advocate for victims; files refute that

Patty Machelor Arizona Daily Star | Posted: Thursday, April 1, 2010 12:00 am

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The late Tucson Bishop Manuel D. Moreno, often characterized as a poor advocate for sexual abuse victims, struggled with both canon law and Vatican mandates in his efforts to defrock two local priests, documents obtained by the Arizona Daily Star show.

In one case, Moreno pleaded with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, for help in removing the Rev. Michael Teta, who was convicted by the church in 1997 of five crimes including sexual solicitation in the confessional.

“I make this plea to you to assist me in every way you can to expedite this case, because the accused was a priest in whom I had great confidence at one time, but who, unfortunately, worked among our former seminarians, and, terrible to say, evidently corrupted many of them,” Moreno wrote in an April 1997 letter to Ratzinger.

Ratzinger’s office oversaw Teta’s case because the crimes allegedly occurred in the confessional. His office did not handle the case of the other priest, Monsignor Robert C. Trupia, until 2001, when jurisdiction over such cases changed.

Teta’s case, Moreno wrote, had already gone on for seven years. Teta was first suspended in 1990.

Teta and Trupia were defrocked in 2004. The diocese suspended Trupia in 1992 after a Tucson mother told the diocese her young son had been sexually abused by Trupia.

The diocese did not notify police about allegations against Trupia until 2000, when mandatory- reporting policies were adopted here.

Benedict has been criticized recently for mishandling abuse cases as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the Vatican department charged with guarding church principles – and as archbishop of Munich, Germany. In one instance, he allegedly halted a church trial of a Milwaukee priest accused of molesting as many as 200 deaf boys between 1950 and 1975.

Tucson Bishop Gerald F. Kicanas said delays in cases here were not due to any Vatican office, including Ratzinger’s.

“The frustration that you can sense in (Moreno’s) letter, when put in the context of the delays experienced in our diocese, clearly refers to the challenges of getting the case resolved locally and did not refer to a frustration with the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” Kicanas wrote in an e-mail response to Star questions.

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