SNAP asks Vatican to reconsider Milwaukee archdiocese cemetery funds

In a move intended to bolster a potential settlement between the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and sex abuse victims, victim advocates are asking the Vatican to rescind a decision that allowed then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan to shield $57 million in cemetery funds from legal liability in 2007.

The Survivors and Clergy Leadership Alliance, a newly formalized organization of priests and survivors of clergy sexual abuse, announced Tuesday that it was sending the request to the Vatican.

The action comes as the archdiocese is working on a reorganization plan to exit its bankruptcy that will be funded in part by an undisclosed settlement it reached with one of its insurers this month.

The withdrawal of the Vatican's nihil obstat, or no objection, to Dolan's plan to move the $57 million into a newly created trust could allow creditors' attorneys to pursue those funds for a potential settlement.

In 2007, Dolan, now cardinal of New York, sought Vatican approval to move the funds to protect them "from any legal claim or liability," according to a document released in July as part of the bankruptcy.

"It's apparent from the tone of Dolan's letter that his intent in moving the money was in anticipation of the bankruptcy," said Monica Barrett, an alliance member who says she was raped by the late Father William Effinger at his Lake Geneva parish when she was 8.
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