Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson, Arizona, 67, is a Chicago native, former rector of Mundelein Seminary and a former auxiliary bishop in Chicago. Widely seen as a moderate and pastoral figure, Kicanas was elected vice-president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2007, which puts him in line to become president of the conference in 2010.
He sat down on the margins of the U.S. bishops’ meeting this week in San Antonio to discuss the fallout from the debate over the University of Notre Dame’s decision to award an honorary doctorate to President Barack Obama, and to invite him to deliver the university’s annual commencement address May 17, despite the protests of dozens of bishops, and despite a 2004 conference statement which said: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
(Read also Allen's interview with Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Curry of Los Angeles: ‘No consensus’ on follow-up to Notre Dame flap.)