Wednesday, January 5, 2011

No bishops were harmed in the bankrupting of this Archdiocese

My temptation is to ask how our Archdiocese of Milwaukee can be filing for bankruptcy (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, New York Times) when only weeks ago Bishop Richard Sklba said in the print version of this Catholic Herald interview,
"My temptation is to say 'Tell me what we did wrong.' In that time and place. 'Tell me what we did wrong,'" he said.
His claim is that our Archdiocese's handling of abuse cases was state of the art, and those who say otherwise are unfairly applying hindsight.

I assume his challenge to be told otherwise was not merely rhetorical. Peter Isely and Jim Smith in The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee include this case.
It was an “open secret” that Fr. Dennis Pecore, a priest with the Society of the Divine Savior religious order who was assigned to Milwaukee’s Mother of Good Counsel parish and grade school, was sexually abusing boys at the parish and the school.

In July of 1984, a teacher who was alarmed by the priest’s behavior of routinely taking boys to his bedroom wrote to Archbishop Weakland urging action before “it goes public.” Archbishop Weakland wrote back, “Any libelous material found in your letter will be scrutinized carefully by our lawyers.”

Frustrated, the teacher and two others continued to write the archdiocese, warning of the danger Pecore posed to children. All three were fired.
While it might well be shown this was consistent with our Archdiocese's standard operating procedures in handling abuse cases, it was not state of the art handling. It also indicates that, in fact, bankruptcy is primarily being used to forestall Milwaukee's present and former bishops having to testify. Our Archdiocesan newspaper's brief report includes that
According to Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, the decision to file “is occurring because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors, going against everything the Church and the priesthood represent.”
One need only recall the case of Father Pecore to be reminded that it was the acts and omissions of our bishops in handling these cases, rather than the underlying acts of priests, that lead to this bankruptcy filing.

Update: The National Catholic Reporter report includes Mr. Jeffrey Anderson's assertion that the bankruptcy filing was the day before the scheduled deposition of Bishop Sklba. Our Archdiocsese disputes this. (via SNAP Network)

P.S. On there being no way our Archdiocese would have taken cases to trial and have our bishops testify, see my prior posts Pictures at a deposition and The salt of the earth, like the Romans at Carthage, both May 16, 2009, and In service to the Word of God August 26, 2006.


  1. Not just the Bishops.

    The retired District Attorney, too.

  2. Anonymous6:46 PM

    These bishops make the Mafia look like saints!

  3. Anonymous12:47 AM

    These bihops make the devil look like a saint. What the Hell...

  4. Anonymous1:21 AM

    Wrote this 3 years ago, it’s may be worth reprinting. I also attached the link to verify that it was published.

    Timing perfect for diocese

    Thursday, October 18, 2007

    To the Editor:

    September was a big month for the Pittsburgh Diocese. Thirty-two alleged survivors of clergy abuse are to split $1.25 million for crimes the Pittsburgh Diocese will never have to admit ever occurred.

    At least the settlement doesn't tarnish the stellar reputation of Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who never had to pay a dime to any clergy abuse victim during his tenure as bishop in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

    Oddly enough, an underling -- so to speak -- Auxiliary Bishop Bradley saw the need to reconcile this situation, only weeks before Bishop David Zubik was to be installed as the new leader of the diocese. So it seems everything has fallen into place.

    Thirty-two survivors get a few bucks, the diocese is off the hook for any future civil or maybe even criminal suits based on the settlement. Wuerl goes back to Washington, D.C., to do whatever it is Archbishops do and Zubik is allowed to get a fresh start in the Pittsburgh Diocese without the interference of those civil suits that were resting in limbo the past few years.

    The settling of the civil suits certainly allowed for an impressive and dignified installation of Bishop Zubik, no hecklers or demonstrators from any groups with compassion for children sexually abused by Catholic priests.

    And although I have no proof, nor any way to calculate, I would be willing to bet the farm that more money was spent on Zubik's festivities than was awarded to 32 survivors of alleged abuse by Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese priests. No big deal, the worst is over.

    Unless of course, somewhere down the road -- maybe a year, a few months, a couple of weeks, or perhaps in the next few days -- information turns up that the cases of sexual abuse actually occurred and that coverups were the norm in the Pittsburgh Diocese just like coverups and shifting priests from parish to parish was the norm in the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    The Philadelphia Grand Jury investigation into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a scathing report on Archbishop Anthony Bevilacqua and other church hierarchy. It should be noted that Bevilacqua served the Pittsburgh Diocese prior to being assigned to Philadelphia.

    Anyone with a little common sense would be concerned that a man of the cloth might be tempted to hide crimes of clergy sexual abuse of young children only on the eastern side of the commonwealth of Pennsylvania and not the western side as well.

    That's a lot of if's and's or but's -- only time will tell. For now it's three cheers for Bishop Zubik.

    Mike Ference