Abp. Listecki issues clarification on high numbers of claims

After WTMJ reported that Abp. Listecki was "unfazed" (read: could care less about victims) by the number of accusations, he released a statement to the faithful to clarify what is going on. 
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

A little over one year ago, the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 financial reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court. This brief letter is intended to give you some information regarding the progress we have made and assure you of our commitment to candid communication.

The archdiocese’s website, www.archmil.org, is continually updated with the latest news. I encourage you to visit the site if you want more information about the Chapter 11 process or more details about a story you may read or hear in the news media during the year. [slightly humorous, the link in the email did not work, and this letter is not on their website anywhere where I could find it]

We filed for Chapter 11 because we were unable to reach a mediated resolution with victims/survivors involved in lawsuits against the archdiocese. That, combined with a court decision that said insurance companies are not bound to contribute any money to a financial settlement, made it clear that reorganization was the best way to fairly and equitably fulfill our obligations.

Here are a couple of things to remember about what the Archdiocese of Milwaukee wants to accomplish through the Chapter 11 process.

The archdiocese wants to fairly compensate abuse survivors of diocesan priests with claims allowed by the bankruptcy court. [The archdiocese is not responsible for those crimes committed by say Jesuit priests, which I'm sure SNAP is claiming they should] At the same time, we want to ensure that the Church is able to carry on its essential ministries to meet the needs of parishes, parishioners and others who rely upon the Church for assistance. Chapter 11 reorganization is the best way to achieve these goals.

In all likelihood, more than 500 claims will be filed with the court. The claims notification process was purposely designed to solicit all possible claims. We have objected to some of these claims because, under the law, they fall outside of the parameters allowed by the bankruptcy court. As an organization, we have a responsibility to do the legal things necessary under the bankruptcy law to ensure that rightful claimants receive equitable compensation in the Chapter 11 proceeding.

For example, we don’t believe that someone who has already received a previous legal settlement should be eligible for additional compensation under the Chapter 11 process, or that the archdiocese should be responsible for perpetrators who were not priests or employees of the archdiocese.

Any instance of sexual abuse of a minor is a horrible crime and sin. We are committed to outreach and therapy for abuse survivors of our diocesan priests, regardless of whether or not their particular claim is eligible for consideration by the court in the Chapter 11 proceeding.

Because of that, I asked the court to allow the archdiocese to create a therapy fund that would provide resources for therapy and counseling assistance for abuse survivors of diocesan clergy abuse as long as such a need exists. This fund will be launched with an initial contribution of $300,000. The therapy fund will be “evergreen,” meaning that it will be established in a way that allows it to be replenished, so that payments for therapy will continue for as long as abuse victims come forward for such assistance. We are establishing it, not because we are required to, but because our faith calls us to do so.  [Unlike, say, SNAPs motives]

The archdiocese has been forthcoming with information about the abuse scandal. The names of all known diocesan clergy with substantiated allegations are posted on the archdiocesan website, as are many documents and information related to abuse.

My prayer is that 2012 will bring us closer to a final resolution of the Chapter 11 process, with a just and equitable settlement for abuse survivors, and that the Church of southeastern Wisconsin will be renewed in its ministry and energized in its commitment to preach and live the Gospel.

With assurance of prayers and asking God’s blessing upon you and your loved ones, I am,

Sincerely yours in Christ

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki
Archbishop of Milwaukee

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