Wednesday, January 13, 2010

That's why pencils have erasers ... and sharp points

At a legislative committee hearing yesterday, Archbishop Listecki opposes lifting limits on abuse suits. Companion bills [SB319/AB453] before the legislature would eliminate the statute of limitations for future claims of sexual abuse and do so retroactively for a one year period. (See Mammon et Magister)
new Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki told lawmakers Tuesday that the measure would bankrupt the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Some time back, I heard Archbishop Dolan decline to rule out bankruptcy in response to a question from Peter Isley. Other dioceses have gone through Chapter 11. It ought to be explained, based on those experiences, why this has to be avoided here. Otherwise one might be left with the impression that actually filing is avoided because the threat of filing gives leverage.

Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) co-sponsored the senate bill. She was uncertain if the bill had the votes to get out of commitee, or to pass if it reached the floor.
Sen. Glenn Grothman (R-West Bend), who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, expressed skepticism about the bill but grilled Listecki about the church's handling of past abuse cases and questioned why former Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland appeared with Listecki when Listecki was installed as archbishop last week.

Weakland has admitted in a memoir and court depositions that he shielded abusive priests.

"Isn't (honoring Weakland) really a poke in the eye to all those people who suffered so horribly?" Grothman said.

Listecki said Weakland's handling of abuse cases was flawed, but the church has changed its practices since then.
Having attended an abuse "listening session" and gone through the "awareness training", I am unconvinced their hearts are in those changed practices. Minimizing Archbishop Weakland shielding abusive priests as "flawed" and accomodating his latest comeback attempt looks to me to be a symptom of that.

P.S. Archbishop: Proposed bill would bankrupt dioceses, by The Associated Press, LaCrosse Tribune (via WisPolitics)
Moments later he [Senator Grothman] called church officials "screwballs" for allowing Weakland to attend Listecki's installation Mass and not removing a plaque bearing Weakland's likeness.
[Archdiocese chief of staff Jerry] Topczewski said outside the hearing that the plaque was in place before word of the lawsuit broke.
Referring to Paul Marcoux's threatened lawsuit. Archbishop Weakland must have forgotten to mention it at the time. Mr. Topczewski went on,
Weakland remains part of the church and deserved a spot at the Mass as much as other bishops who attended, he said.
Their Hands Are Tied.

Update: Wis. senator insults former archbishop, WKOW-TV Madison (via "Diogenes" at Off the Record)

Update 2: Failing to address Weakland will cost Milwaukee diocese, by Amy Pawlak, Milwaukee Examiner

Update 3: Listecki pressed about Weakland’s status, by Bob Hague, Wisconsin Public Radio. "Listecki admitted that Weakland is 'a lightning rod' within the Archdiocese."

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