Winners and Losers in Archdiocese’s Bankruptcy

Big losers were clergy abuse victims. Other losers were We Energies, its ratepayers and Messmer H.S.

By - Dec 9th, 2015 11:08 am

Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki

Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki. By Amg910 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

The news is good for the Milwaukee archdiocese. It will emerge from bankruptcy largely intact. It did not have to sell any property and all of its parishes, schools and other entities are protected from related litigation.

The news is not good for the 575 alleged victims of sexual abuse by archdiocesan clergy. Of that total, archdiocesan lawyers succeeded in throwing out 240 claims. The remaining 335 alleged victims received a settlement of $39,000 per person, one of the lowest per-person settlements in the nation.

The big winners, in addition to the archdiocese, are the lawyers. Except for the lawyers, all creditors will be paid up to $5,000 of their bills, losing the rest. A long list of creditors were owed money, presumably since the point when the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy.

The winners are:

  • The bankruptcy lawyers — those representing both the archdiocese and the creditors — will receive about $20 million.
  • Another $4.5 million goes to the lawyers involved in the cemetery trust litigation that the archdiocese argued should not be included in the cost of the bankruptcy.
  • Each of the parishes has been asked to contribute $2,000 to a therapy fund for abuse victims, but the parishes receive immunity from future lawsuits.
  • The archdiocese will have a fresh start without debt; it did not have to sell any property to reach the settlement.

The losers are:

  • State court lawyers worked for years without pay and will receive up to 40 percent of each of their clients’ settlement (most, but not all, abuse victims were represented by state lawyers). While they will receive something, they had battled in state courts for 20 years without compensation.
  • Messmer High School, the independent Catholic school that serves Milwaukee’s African-American community, will lose $3.4 million in support the archdiocese pledged when the school took over two feeder schools from the archdiocese in 2007.
  • We Energies will be shorted $129,437. But the loss will by passed on to area ratepayers, We Energies spokesperson Brian Manthey confirmed.
  • The Milwaukee Water Works will be shorted $25,589, a sum that will be paid by other users. Officials there did not respond to calls for comments.
  • The Green Bay diocese’s tribunal will lose $15,000.
  • The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops will be shorted $9,621.
  • A number of contractors, office suppliers and other vendors took hits of between $773 and $9,888.

A shorter version of this story was originally published in the National Catholic Reporter.

Categories: Public Safety

8 thoughts on “Winners and Losers in Archdiocese’s Bankruptcy”

  1. Ben says:

    $24.5 million to the attorneys – what a joke our legal system is!!!

  2. Edward Susterich says:

    Meanwhile, the money continues to roll into the coffers of the Catholic Church from faithful believers. Afterall, the enormous wealth of the Vatican came not from God, but its victims.

  3. Mat says:

    Good, screw those who were trying to get a vindictive ruling on the Church. Too much in legal fees for both sides, but monetary compensation will do nothing to help the victims. Free counseling, yes; legal punishment for abusers, yes; better safe guards; yes. Forcing the sale of assets; just people trying to screw over the Church to further their agendas.

  4. Richard says:

    Still goes back to three necessary events, the arrest of Dolan, Listecki and Weakland! From those 3 arrests criminal proceedigns can begin, the arena all of this should have been in in the first place!!!!!

  5. Marie says:

    So what agendas did these suits “further” that you find objectionable? The ending of condoned child rape? The transfer of child-rapists from one parish to another for decades?

    Protection of church’s massive real estate holdings, which was originally the reason for imposing the so-called celibacy of priests, has been unaffected by these lawsuits.

    As the movie Spotlight revealed, the Catholic Church as an institution was completely corrupt, and lawyers were used to sweep the rampant abuse under the rug.

    I respect individual well-meaning and good-hearted Catholics. But I feel sorry that the Church has also screwed over those “faithful” as well. But the Age of the Unaccountable Evil Clergy will slowly end and “lay people” are slowly replacing the massive priest shortage.

    Some may still aspire to wearing caftan-like garments and big goofy hats, but it’s a dying breed. And pedophiles won’t have a protected fast-track.

  6. Marie says:

    An earlier in-depth article on this by Marie Rohde…

    It cites Francis LoCoco as the lead attorney.
    Whyte Hirschboeck Dudek S.C.
    September 2007 – Present (8 years 4 months)

    The archdiocese’s lawyer’s contended that no one had any legit claims. But Listecki is glad it’s all behind them now.

  7. Marie says:

    In July 2013, documents made public during bankruptcy proceedings showed that Dolan had sought permission to move $57 million in church funds to protect the assets from victims of clerical abuse. In a letter to the Vatican requesting permission to move the funds, Dolan wrote “By transferring these assets to the trust, I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability. Dolan had previously denied that he tried to conceal assets from child sex abuse victims claiming compensation calling the accusations “old and discredited” and “malarkey.” United States law forbids debtors transferring money in ways that protect some creditors against others. The Vatican approved the request in five weeks. (from Wikipedia)

    “Pious” testimony from Timothy Dolan, now a Cardinal and Pope Picker:

    Q. Once you became installed as Archbishop in Milwaukee, tell us how and when you first encountered the problem of sexual abuse by
    clerics in Milwaukee and your first experience in that regard.

    A. Sure. Well, look, it’s not going to surprise anybody to know at the time that was the major priority of any Bishop in the United States. We
    had, since it became a national tsunami on the Feast of the Epiphany in January of 2002, that was a major priority for the — for any Bishop. That was intensified in the summer meeting in Dallas when we deliberated and passed what has become known as the Dallas Charter. So any
    Bishop at the time would have had that as a priority, and I sure did when I became Archbishop of Milwaukee.
    So, yeah, one of my first priorities would be to find out, to ask some questions to make sure that we were in line in our fidelity to the promises that were made by the Dallas Charter. And so that would have been a major goal. I trust that I was rather rigorous in vacuuming knowledge and consulting with people and making sure that we had things in order.

    Q. And as a first priority that — as you have described it, to whom did you go to help make sure that the Archdiocese was in line with the promises made?

    A. To whom did I go? First of all, to the Lord asking his grace and guidance, because it was —We were all facing such difficulties that one
    would find oneself praying a lot, but you mean on this side of heaven?

  8. john mccormick says:

    Cardinal Dolan is now protecting a priest named Fr Miqueli who stole a million dollars from a NY parish, and used to to pay his homosexual hooker boyfriend, including the ability to drink his urine. Yep, you read that right.

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