Why did the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy take so long to resolve?
Q: Why did it take so long to resolve?JS FaithWatch
A: That's a long and complex answer, so we'll just address a few reasons here.
Milwaukee is not like the other dioceses where multimillion-dollar settlements were reached. It's the only one without access to insurance, and so lawyers for the church and its creditors battled over other sources of money, including parishes, a $35 million parish investment fund and a now $70 million cemetery trust.
It's also the only diocese to attempt to throw out all of the sex abuse claims filed in bankruptcy. And the creditors committee, which is made up of abuse survivors but represents all creditors in the case, aggressively defended those claims.
The case proceeded more like a contentious tort litigation, which is adversarial in nature, rather than a Chapter 11, which is intended to bring parties together to negotiate.
Nearly every decision in the case was appealed. In one decision, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley found that forcing the church to tap at least some of its cemetery funds would not violate its religious liberty.
Q: How much is the deal worth and where is the money coming from?
A: In all, the deal is valued at about $29 million, with $21 million going to victims, $500,000 for a therapy fund and $7.8 million to legal fees. The archdiocese's insurers will pay $11 million and its cemetery trust $16 million. The balance will come from archdiocesan resources that are yet to be determined, said Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome Listecki. And parishes will contribute to the therapy fund.