July 13, 2005

Bishop fostered an inclusive church


By Darren Barbee
Star-Telegram Staff Writer

FORT WORTH - Bishop Joseph P. Delaney, the reserved leader of the Fort Worth Roman Catholic Diocese who reached across racial lines to foster a more inclusive church, was found dead at home Tuesday morning. He was 70.

He served nearly 24 years as the second bishop of the Fort Worth Diocese. He was the first in the area to institute Masses in Spanish. He responded head-on to a shortage of priests. And he was forced to grapple with the nationwide sexual abuse crisis when it hit close to home.

Bishop Delaney was a private, introspective and intellectual man. He was known for a dogged work ethic -- he went to his office Monday to check his mail -- that turned to frustration as he grew weaker from a 2003 bout with pancreatic cancer. Though the cancer was in remission, he suffered from its aftereffects and had to have surgery last year.

Bishop Delaney had planned to attend today's ordination of his successor, Monsignor Kevin W. Vann of the Diocese of Springfield, Ill. Vann, named coadjutor bishop by Pope Benedict XVI in May, will be ordained as bishop at 6 p.m. today at Texas Christian University's Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. ...

Others said Bishop Delaney's handling of sex abuse cases in the diocese will also be part of his legacy.

In April, the diocese agreed to pay $4.15 million to settle a lawsuit with two men who said they were abused by the Rev. Thomas Teczar when they were children in Ranger during the early 1990s.

The two men said they believe that Bishop Delaney knew that the priest was a risk when he hired him. Bishop Delaney said in May that, in hindsight, he regretted bringing Teczar to the diocese.

Posted by kshaw at July 13, 2005 07:28 AM