Friday, February 10, 2012

Truth Squab

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website has a Setting the Record Straight - Media Corrections page to "correct errors and clarify information found in local media outlets". As of today, it had five entries in a period going back over a year.

The media is apparently doing an exemplary job covering the ArchMil's travails. By comparison, our Archdiocese has had to confess past "imprecise communications".

This week's Milwaukee Catholic Herald reports, in an article titled Commitment to those eligible to file claims reiterated, Fr. James Connell had prepared a statement about how our Archdiocese had handled bankruptcy claims. “Eligibility restrictions should have been stated clearly on the public postings and on the proof of claim form. To introduce these restrictions at the end of the process is disingenuous and further breeds distrust of Catholic Church leaders.” In response, Jerry Topczewski, chief of staff for Archbishop Jerome E. Listecki, said, upon receiving a copy of the statement, that he had emailed Fr. Connell, writing, 'I hope you reconcile your statement with the facts before you make it.'"

Having been warned, by Mr. Topczewski himself, to always be on the lookout for imprecision in any communication from our Archdiocese, I invite you to examine the remainder of the article to see if it ever addresses the substantive point Fr. Connell makes. Nothing prevented our Archdiocese conspicuously and precisely communicating from the start its intention to defeat as many abuse claims as possible on grounds other than lack of substantive merit. To say this position can be found in documents filed in the Bankruptcy Court, or that their hands are tied by fiduciary duty, comes across as "disingenuous and further breeds distrust of Catholic Church leaders," as Fr. Connell says.

I suppose, at this point, if our Archdiocese says nothing, it will make things worse, and if it says something, it will make things worse. The latter must have been judged the lesser evil, and Mr. Topczewski has the unenviable task of issuing most of the imprecise communications.

P.S. On top of everything else, Fr. Connell, you might note from the article, remains vice chancellor of our Archdiocese. Shouldn't his votes of no confidence come from outside the Chancery?

P.P.S. Speaking of fiduciary duty, I still wonder how the governing board of the minor seminary corporation could hock its major asset to provide funds to pay creditors of our Archdiocese. If they can do it, why not, say, the Faith In Our Future trustees?

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