The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee has made a move toward resolving a long-running bankruptcy case by reaching agreement with insurers, including Lloyd’s of London, to buy back policies sold to the church in exchange for avoiding liability in paying claims to victims of sex abuse by priests.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that spokesman Jerry Topczewski would not say how much the archdiocese will receive from the settlement. That will be spelled out in the church’s financial reorganization plan which must be approved in federal bankruptcy court, although Topczewski did not know when that plan will be filed.
The Milwaukee Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in 2011, in the wake of cases of sex abuse by priests dating back for decades. Archdiocesan officials have stated they don’t have the money to pay millions-of-dollars to those victims. In one of the most contentious Catholic bankruptcy actions in the U.S., both sides have argued over which victims should get compensated and which assets can be protected from creditors.
A bankruptcy court ruled the archdiocese could not tap assets from local parishes to pay creditors, including some 575 sex abuse victims who filed for compensation in the bankruptcy. The attorney representing victims, Michael Finnegan, said the Lloyd’s of London settlement excludes victims. He said that was a first among bankruptcies filed by U.S. Catholic dioceses.
“Their exclusion from the process falls far short of Archbishop (Jerome) Listecki’s promise to survivors at the outset of this case to treat them fairly and equitably,” Finnegan told the Journal Sentinel.