November 15th, 2010
11:47 AM ET
A top contender to head the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops rejected allegations he allowed the ordination of a priest who went on to abuse children.
The bishops meet Tuesday to elect a new president, and the current vice-president, Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, is considered a likely candidate.
But a group that campaigns against abuse of children by priests said Sunday he was not fit for the job.
"Kicanas knew about serious accusations of child sexual abuse and misconduct by a Chicago priest but 'did little or nothing to report these allegations to police, warn parents about him, or protect children from him,"" the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said.
"At the time, Kicanas headed the seminary where (Daniel) McCormack attended and could have blocked or delayed the priest's ordination but did not. That cleric was convicted in 2007 of molesting kids and is now behind bars," SNAP said.
Kicanas was rector of Mundelein Seminary in the Chicago area when McCormack was a student.
He said Friday he had never heard a complaint against McCormack then.
"At no time while McCormack was a seminarian at Mundelein did I receive any allegation of pedophilia or child molestation against him," Kicanas said in a detailed e-mail interview with the National Catholic Register.
"I never received any allegation, report or concern about McCormack during his seminary years at Mundelein that involved sexual abuse of anyone," he says, rejecting reports by the Chicago Sun-Times newspaper, Chicago public radio station WBEZ and the Catholic-focused Spero News.
"Kicanas' irresponsible actions directly led to children being sexually assaulted by McCormack. It's wrong for bishops to promote him," said Barbara Dorris, SNAP's outreach director.
McCormack has been defrocked, SNAP said.
Kicanas is one of 10 candidates for the three-year presidency of the USCCB. The current president, Cardinal Francis George, is not running for re-election.
SNAP also criticized another candidate, Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York.
In August, Dolan "quietly, recklessly and deceptively" let a prominent priest resign from his Harlem parish without mentioning that at least nine men have accused the priest of molesting them as boys, SNAP said.
Two years ago, Dolan's predecessor found the allegations credible and suspended Msgr. Wallace A. Harris, SNAP said, adding that he has not been defrocked.
Dolan's office declined to respond to CNN questions about Harris.
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