Please join me in praying for all victims of sexual abuse and for the Church in southeastern Wisconsin.
From Listecki's letter:
After consultation with archdiocesan advisors and after my own prayerful consideration, this morning I directed attorneys for the archdiocese to file a petition for a Chapter 11 reorganization of its financial affairs under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code.
In my installation homily on January 4, 2010, I spoke of the devastation of sin and its effect on us personally and as a community. We see the result of that sin today. This action is occurring because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors, going against everything the Church and the priesthood represents.
In taking this action, we have two goals. First, we want to do as much as we can, as fairly as we can, to compensate victims/survivors with unresolved claims – both those with claims pending and those who will come forward because of this proceeding. Second, we want to carry on the essential ministries of the archdiocese so we can continue to meet the needs of our parishes, parishioners and others who rely upon the Church for assistance.
As a Church, we have worked for more than two decades to meet the needs of victims/survivors without taking this drastic action. Since the late 1980s, we have directed increasing resources toward providing financial, psychological, pastoral and spiritual support to victims/survivors. Over the past 20 years, we have spent more than $29 million to cover costs associated with this tragedy. Since 2002, we have sold property, liquidated savings and investments, eliminated ministries and services, cut archdiocesan staff by nearly 40 percent, and put all available real estate on the market in order to free up resources. As a result, we have succeeded in reaching mediated settlements with more than 190 individuals. But in the end, our available resources fell short.
This bankruptcy proceeding applies only to the archdiocese itself. Parishes, schools or other Catholic entities that are separately incorporated under state law are not affected by this filing.
Many of you may feel disheartened and frustrated by this development. I have experienced the same emotions. For those who may feel anger and resentment that we have come to this moment, STOP. We are here because of one reason: priests sexually abused minors. For that, I feel deeply ashamed. As your bishop, I apologize to victims/survivors for the harm, pain and suffering they are experiencing.
I also want to apologize to all the faithful priests, religious and laity whose good works may have been tarnished by this ongoing tragedy. This can be a difficult time to be a Catholic.
But with humble hearts you persist. You come to Mass. You support your parishes and schools. You contribute at record levels to support the mission of the Church. You do countless good works through Catholic organizations. With you, the Church will continue to serve hundreds of thousands of people, making major contributions to our communities, even as we proceed with this reorganization. You carry on because you understand that while the human dimension of the Church mirrors all of humanity’s failings, the Holy Spirit guiding her ultimately prevails.
Your faith is the rock on which we will build a renewed Church in southeastern Wisconsin. This is what gives me hope and confidence as we enter into this process. Just as the pain and suffering of those who have been harmed is beyond imagining, our financial reorganization will be painful, as it should be. This process will lay the groundwork for a new beginning. Like a damaged tree that is pruned drastically, I firmly believe our archdiocese will ultimately grow back, healthier and stronger, as long as our own faith remains rooted in Jesus Christ.
(Read the entire letter here)
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