- The Washington Times - Monday, February 10, 2003

DALLAS A behind-the-scenes tug of war between several prominent Roman Catholics and the Dallas diocese for the past several years has gone public with recent charges that the embattled bishop had reneged on a 1997 promise to retire.
Bishop Charles V. Grahmann, replying via a written statement, denied that he ever agreed to retire and said characterizations of dealings with the lay group were untrue.
The lay group's "inappropriate use of the media," he charged, served only to split the church "and contributes nothing toward the healing and reconciliation needed within the church and the community."
Attempts by The Washington Times to elicit further comment from the bishop or his spokesman, Bronson Havard, were unsuccessful. Eight voice-mail messages have been left at the bishop's office.
The Dallas Morning News reported Jan. 26 that several Catholics, dismayed at Bishop Grahmann's handling of priests accused of being sexual predators, had negotiated with the bishop and his aides in summer 1997, demanding his resignation and other remedial actions.
The action came on the heels of a highly publicized lawsuit in which nine former altar boys sued the Dallas diocese, saying that ex-priest Rudy Kos already serving a life sentence after a criminal prosecution had sexually molested them in the 1980s and 1990s.
The plaintiffs' chief contention was that Bishop Grahmann and others covered up for Kos, and even transferred him to other parishes without informing those affected of his questionable background.
After an 11-week trial, a local jury came back with a $120 million verdict for the plaintiffs (later settled for $23.4 million). It was the largest clergy abuse award in history and threatened to destroy the diocese financially.
The Dallas Morning News and D magazine reported that several leading Catholics including D publisher Wick Allison, Dallas News retired publisher James M. Moroney Jr., lawyers Daniel Hennessy and William McCormack and investor Mike Maguire met with Bishop Grahmann and other diocesan leaders.
Mr. Allison said the group began pressing the bishop in August 1997, demanding that he step down, that the diocese refrain from appealing the Kos verdict, that the church fire the criminal lawyer who had tried the Kos case and remove the pastor of All Saints parish, the Rev. Robert Rehkemper, who had blamed parents for letting Kos molest their children.
From several discussions with Mr. Havard, a former Dallas Times Herald reporter, Mr. Allison said the bishop bitterly rejected the idea he should resign. As a compromise, Mr. Allison told Mr. Havard that if the bishop did not exit within several months, so as not to be seen as related to the Kos case, the laymen would publicly condemn Bishop Grahmann, with dozens of local leaders signing the letter. Mr. Allison called it "our atom bomb."
Almost immediately, said Mr. McCormack, "Wick called me and said he had an agreement from the bishop. He said it was 'a done deal.'"
As the months went on, the bishop said nothing. Because the tumult locally had subsided, the subject wasn't broached.
Then three years ago, the Vatican sent Coadjutor Bishop Joseph Galante, obviously meant as Bishop Grahmann's successor, to Dallas, with still no move on the bishop's part.
"Once the heat was off, he decided to stay," Mr. Allison said. The magazine publisher said he decided to relate the 1997 dealings only after the diocese attacked the Dallas Morning News following a November editorial calling for the bishop's resignation.

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