WI- Letter calls on Vatican to investigate the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Bankruptcy

For immediate release Thursday Dec 4, 2014
Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414-429-7259

An open letter sent by a group of local priest and survivor advocates is calling on the Vatican to investigate the Milwaukee Archdiocese Bankruptcy. (Letter provided below)

As reported today in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the letter presents six points under church law and practice that would justify such an investigation (full story here):

--Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki directed the church attorney to file for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court saying that the action “would provide a means to compensate victims/survivors with unresolved claims while allowing the archdiocese to continue its essential ministries.” No eligibility requirements were listed.

--The archdiocese “went to great effort and expense” to find victim/survivors. “Indeed, the bankruptcy claims process seemed inviting, not restrictive; it created hope for justice and healing.”

--About 575 claims of abuse were filed with the court.

--In 2013 it came to light that in 2007, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal of New York, had transferred about $57 million into a trust fund for the perpetual care of nine cemeteries saying in a letter to the Vatican that the intent was “to provide improved protection of these funds from “any legal claim and liability.” That scandalized Catholics and non-Catholics, the letter stated.  Earlier this year, the archdiocese objected to all of the claims based on sex abuse, saying none had merit, but said it would be willing to compensate 125 claimants “only because doing so would be less expensive than fighting these claims in court,” according to the letter.

--While the archdiocese could change its approach, “the archdiocese appears to intend to continue on the course it has been following. … They intend to object to all the claims.”

--Documents in the court file show that legal and administrative fees have reached $18 million. ”There is enough money to compensate attorneys but not victims survivors.”

The Vatican is currently investigating an American Bishop, Robert Finn, for that diocese handling of sex abuse cases.

Read the letter to Pope Francis here.


(SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We were founded in 1988 and have more than 20,000 members. 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. Our website is SNAPnetwork.org)

Contact - David Clohessy, 314-566-9790davidgclohessy@gmail.com; Barbara Dorris 314-503-0003bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org; Barbara Blaine 312-399-4747,bblaine@SNAPnetwork.org; Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414-429-7259; Fr. James Connell, 414-940-8045

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