One year to the day of his installation, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki Tuesday made a major announcement that the archdiocese would be filing bankruptcy. Listecki says the ability to reorganize its finances under Chapter-11 is the best way for the church to fairly meet its obligations to compensate victims.
Numerous lawsuits have been filed on behalf of victims who were abused by pedophile priests. Recent settlement talks between victims and the church did not go far. Also a court recently said the church cannot tap insurance to pay the abuse victims.
Listecki pledges transparency about the issue, “I promise to share information as it becomes available in an open, candid and straight-forward way,” he says.
But a victims group hasn’t been satisfied with the Archdiocese’s openness thus far. The Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests claims the archdiocese is trying to protect its secrets and not its assets by declaring bankruptcy.
SNAP’s Peter Isely says of the church’s goals is to keep retired Auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba quiet so he doesn’t make a scheduled deposition in the lawsuits. Critics says Sklba was a key person in helping former Archbishop Rembert Weakland quietly move abusive priests to new parishes where they could offend again.
Isely says the settlement talks broke down because victims’ priority was to first find out which church leaders knew of the abuse rather than talk dollar figures.