Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki had a message for followers calling the behavior by priests “sinful and criminal,” during a recorded message played at Masses. He explained last week’s decision to file for bankruptcy petition in the message, saying pending sexual abuse lawsuits would leave it with debts it couldn’t pay.
Listecki said he was embarrassed, making no excuses and apologizing for the slow response by the church to the scandal.
A victims group claims that the bankruptcy filing is an administrative attempt to conceal the names of church officials who knew of abuse but did not take action.
But a UW Law professor calls that an “unrealistic” strategy on behalf of the church. Jonathan Lipson admits the archdiocese filing for bankruptcy halts activity on pending abuse lawsuits and testimony but adds it’s only a temporary halt. He says its bankruptcy judge will let the current abuse lawsuits continue.
The legal scholar notes bankruptcy court has the same power to request church records as county court and bankruptcy usually leads to greater judicial and public scrutiny of a debtor.