WI--As bankruptcy ends Monday, Milwaukee deaf survivors asking Archbishop Listecki to join them in meeting with Pope

As bankruptcy ends Monday, Milwaukee deaf survivors asking Archbishop Listecki to join them in meeting with Pope

Nearly five year old bankruptcy may end at Monday morning hearing for 575 survivors who filed cases

Deaf survivors say “major issues and concerns about justice, criminal fraud and financial mismanagement remain uninvestigated and unresolved”     

WHO/WHAT:  Victim/survivors of childhood rape, sexual assault and abuse by priests of the Milwaukee Archdiocese who will be attending a final confirmation hearing for the nearly five year old Milwaukee archdiocese bankruptcy.  Among them will be deaf survivors of Fr. Lawrence Murphy from St. John’s School for the Deaf, who have requested a meeting Monday to be arranged by Archbishop Jerome Listecki and Pope Francis.  Deaf survivors will attempt to hand deliver the request in a letter sent to the Vatican to Archbishop Listecki at or outside the Milwaukee Federal Courthouse.  Listecki is scheduled to testify in the morning.  Survivors will be conducting a press conference on the steps of the Federal Courthouse after the hearing or at noon, whichever comes first. 

WHEN: Monday, November 9; hearing is scheduled to start at 9:00 a.m.  Survivors will hold a press conference when the hearing ends or at noon, whichever comes first. 

WHERE: Courtroom of Federal Bankruptcy Judge Susan V Kelley, 517 E. Wisconsin Ave., Milwaukee.

WHY: Leaders of some 200 deaf victims of childhood sexual assault from Milwaukee’s St. John’s School for the Deaf, a case which came to symbolize the global sexual abuse cover up crisis in the church, are asking for a meeting with Pope Francis and they want Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki to join them. 

The survivors will attempt to hand deliver the request Monday morning at the Milwaukee Federal Courthouse where Listecki is expected to testify at a hearing that should effectively end a nearly five year old church bankruptcy.

“This five year bankruptcy,” write the deaf victims to Pope Francis, “has been a wounding and revictimizing experience.  And the most important issues about the church cover up of sex crimes in Milwaukee remain unanswered and unresolved, especially the pattern of financial fraud and mismanagement by church officials.

Financial scandals continue to plague the church, the survivors note, as evidenced with the new eruption of the Vatileaks scandal: “As documents in the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy show, financial fraud, deceit and cover-ups are often directly related to the cover up of other, more heinous misdeeds, such as the systematic and widespread abuse of children, including hundreds of our deaf brothers and sisters.”  

“These courageous deaf survivors” according to Peter Isely, the Milwaukee based Midwest Director of SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abuses by Priests), “speak for all of us 575 victims that filed into the bankruptcy, which Archbishop Listecki promised would bring ‘healing and resolution.’  Very little has been healed and virtually nothing has been resolved.”

Among the issues the deaf survivors want to discuss with Pope Francis, several relate to financial fraud or mismanagement of church money, including transferring nearly $60 million dollars into what court documents show is a fraudulently constituted Cemetery Trust created by former Archbishop Timothy Dolan before the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy.

They also want Pope Francis to look into how “twice as much money in the bankruptcy settlement will be going to church and other lawyers (the most lavish legal profits of any church bankruptcy in US history) than to all 575 victims combined.  Clearly, this shows a serious mismanagement and diversion of church resources. It is hard for us not to believe that you intended those resources to go to help heal victims not enrich lawyers.  How does this possibly promote the church’s mission of spreading the Gospel and healing the wounded?”

Other concerns in the letter relate, the St. John survivors say,  to public safety:  “There are 575 victim reports detailing over 8,000 instances of criminal sexual assault by over 150 Milwaukee clergy and others.  These reports have not been reviewed by US law enforcement or even by Vatican officials.”  The letter urges Francis to obtain from Listecki the 575 victim reports in preparation for the meeting.

The letter to Francis concludes: “We are willing to go to Rome with Archbishop Listecki to sit down with you. This is something that could quite easily be arranged by giving your consent.  This meeting will give Archbishop Listecki an opportunity as well, to explain how this bankruptcy has not furthered damaged the public view of the church and has resulted in truth, justice and the advancement of the common good.”

CONTACT: Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee) 414.429.7259 peterisley@yahoo.com or Monica Barrett, 414.704.6074, mlbarrett@gmail.com

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 18,000 members worldwide. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com     

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