Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Milwaukee eighth diocese to file for bankruptcy
This first appeared in Jan. 2011. It gives a picture of the sad state of affairs in a number of dioceses.
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee Jan. 4 became the eighth U.S. diocese to file for bankruptcy, claiming financial hardship because of payouts to people claiming to have been sexually abused by priests as children.
Archbishop Jerome Listecki made the announcement a year to the day following his installation as head of the country’s 21st largest diocese, with some 640,000 Catholics. Listecki, who said the move was necessary so that the church could continue to function while negotiating with alleged victims, recalled his installation homily.
"I spoke of the devastation of sin and its effect on us personally and as a community. We see the result of that sin today," he said.<b></big> "This action is occurring because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors, going against everything the church and the priesthood represents."</big></b>
Attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who represents plaintiffs in some of the cases, disputes the archdiocese’s version of things. He said the action was taken to place a hold on fraud cases that were advancing. <b></big>Anderson said he was scheduled to take a deposition tomorrow of retired Bishop Richard Sklba, who was described by former Archbishop Rembert Weakland as has “go-to guy” in matters of clergy sex abuse.
Weakland himself was forced from office in 2002 when it was revealed that he used nearly a half million dollars of archdiocesan funds to pay for the silence of a man with whom the archbishop was having an affair.</big></b>
Diocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski in an email said that “no deposition of Bishop Sklba was scheduled for January 6” and that a motion by Anderson “to delay a hearing regarding the deposition is what postponed the deposition.”
Anderson, in a phone interview, responded that just before the holidays a lawyer for the archdiocese informed Anderson that Sklba would sit for the deposition only if it were sealed. Anderson said he informed the archdiocese that he would “never agree to that.”
He said a hearing had been set for Feb. 23 on the archdiocese’s request for the deposition to be conducted under seal. However, Anderson said the bankruptcy filing puts on hold all discovery, including plans to depose Weakland and Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now of New York, who had been head of the Milwaukee Archdiocese for seven years.
In a statement posted on the archdiocesan website, Listecki said the bankruptcy filing has two goals: first, to fairly compensate those victims with unresolved claims, and second, to carry on essential ministries of the archdiocese.
<b></big>During the past 20 years, the archdiocese has spent more than $29 million to cover costs associated with the sex abuse scandal, according to the website. “Since 2002, we have sold property, liquidated savings and investmens, and put all available real estate on the market in order to free up resources,”</big></b> the statement says. In that time, the archdiocese has reached mediated settlements with nearly 200 individuals.
However, mediation recently broke down with remaining victims, meaning that the archdiocese would face not only increasing legal costs, but requirements for disclosure as cases moved to trial.
According to the archdiocese statement, “A Chapter 11 reorganization will enable the court to compensate all these individuals in a single process, ensuring that each is treated equitably.” The action would also serve as “a kind of ‘last call’ for financial claims against the archdiocese.”
David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told NCR that <b></big> filing for bankruptcy has become a familiar ploy for dioceses which want to avoid jury trials and the disclosure of documents and files that would be required in such proceedings.</big></b>
Full article at<a href="http://ncronline.org/print/22132"> National Catholic Reporter </a>
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish responded to this saying:
This evil emanated not only from the sexual violations of innocent children by predatory priests, but also from the failures of enabling bishops to protect them.
Filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee is really about keeping the whole truth of this tragic matter from being made public. The filing has most likely delayed, if not cancelled, the previously scheduled deposition of its former auxiliary, Bishop Richard J. Sklba among others.
Can the hierarchy be blind to the fact that its actions, in continuing on its present course, are speeding up an already unprecedented erosion of credibility among the ordinary faithful who cling to the belief that church leadership is still capable of telling the truth and being accountable for its past failures in protecting children?
From the perspective of those both inside and outside of Catholicism, this filing and the protracted litigation it will involve inflicts additional pain and suffering while keeping far too many secrets about how the church reached such a low water mark at the beginning of the 21st century.
..................“But whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a great millstone fastened around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”
her full article <a href="http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/milwaukee-bankruptcy-filing-masks-truth">here </a>