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Is it really US bishops vs. the pope?

December 7, 2014

http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2014/12/06/are-us-bishops-really-resisting-pope-francis/

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Is it really US bishops vs. the pope?

Plus: Papal ‘silence’ on Asia Bibi, the divorce debate, and a bulletproof finance czar

John L. Allen Jr.

Associate editor

™ @JohnLAllenJr

John L. Allen Jr., associate editor, specializes in coverage of the Vatican.

 

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US cardinals take a bus ride from the Pontifical North American College in Rome to synod hall at the Vatican March 11, 2013 for the cardinals’ last general congregation meeting before the conclave. Pictured from left, in front, Cardinals Donald W. Wuerl of Washington, Francis E. George of Chicago, and Daniel N. DiNardo of Galveston-Houston. Behind them, from left, Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, and Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston. In back, from left, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, retired archbishop of Los Angeles; Cardinal Justin Rigali, retired archbishop of Philadelphia, and Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York. 

 

By John L. Allen Jr.

Associate editor December 6, 2014

Now that Pope Francis has confirmed his trip to the United States next September, heading to Philadelphia for a Vatican-sponsored meeting of families and probably also to New York and Washington, American media outlets are already beginning to gear up for saturation coverage.

One narrative seems destined to loom steadily larger the closer we get to the trip: perceived resistance from conservative American bishops to Pope Francis’ progressive agenda.

Seeing that coming, I’ll launch a preemptive strike here, trying to explain why the “US bishops v. the pope” riff can easily be overblown. I’m under no illusion that my thoughts will have much effect on how the trip is covered, but at least something will be on the record.

To begin, the impressions are not based on thin air.

The pope’s host in Philadelphia, for instance, will be Archbishop Charles Chaput, seen as a champion of the church’s conservative wing, who recently said media coverage of the pope’s Synod of Bishops on the family in October had created “confusion.”

Chicago’s retired and ailing Cardinal Francis George, who remains a key point of reference, ticked off some questions he’d like to ask Francis in a recent interview with Crux, including if the pope realizes he’s created an impression that Church teaching is up for grabs.

“I don’t know whether he’s conscious of all the consequences of some of the things he’s said and done that raise doubts in people’s minds,” George said.

The fact that Cardinal Raymond Burke emerged as a leader of the tradition-minded camp at the synod fuels the “America v. Francis” storyline, as does Burke’s recent demotion.

In general, American Catholicism poses two unique challenges for a pope who’s an economic populist, and who’s vowed to dial down the rhetoric on the wars of culture.  Nowhere else is there such a strong Catholic infrastructure dedicated to defending capitalism, and nowhere else is clarity on the “life issues,” such as abortion and gay marriage, such a defining feature of Catholic identity.

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Yet there are still four good reasons why the “American bishops vs. Francis” narrative has to be taken with a grain of salt.

First, there are a lot of bishops in this country, and they don’t all think alike.

The United States has 195 dioceses, archdioceses, and other jurisdictions, which comes to just under 200 bishops. Adding in auxiliary bishops and those who are retired, the total rises to around 450.

More from Crux

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Francis poised for Era of Good Feelings with secularism

What ‘America’s Ratzinger’ would like to ask Pope Francis

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As a result, it’s almost meaningless to ask what the “American bishops” think of anything. One has to specify which bishops we’re talking about, and the answers will vary widely.

For instance, does anybody really believe that Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley in Boston or Archbishop Blase Cupich in Chicago – one a member of the pope’s kitchen cabinet, the other his hand-picked nominee in the Windy City – are “resisting” Francis?

Second, Pope Francis is the 267th pope, depending on how one counts, and he’s also probably the 267th to have run into problems with some of his bishops.

Those tensions go back to the New Testament, and a famous clash between Peter and Paul over the requirements for gentiles who became Christians.

More recently, Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI both encountered strong internal resistance, including in America. When John Paul stripped liberal Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen in Seattle of some powers in 1986, the president of the US bishops’ conference had to organize a kiss-and-make-up session between American bishops and papal aides, for fear that animosity might mar John Paul’s trip to the States in September 1987.

Whatever the blowback to Francis may be, it’s nothing new.

Third, Francis has called for an open debate about issues in the Church. At the beginning of the synod in October, he read aloud a letter he’d received from a cardinal saying some prelates were muzzling themselves out of fear the pope had a different opinion, and Francis begged them not to do that.

It’s thus disingenuous to blame bishops for stoking “resistance” to the pope every time they voice their opinion on something. One could just as easily say they’re practicing obedience, not defiance.

Fourth, no matter what some American bishops may privately think, they have a powerful incentive to see Francis succeed. That’s because having a popular pope makes their lives easier.

Not long ago, when the typical bishop went on American TV, the questions were about sex scandals, crackdowns on nuns, and bruising political fights. Today, they’re more likely to be softballs about the church’s rock-star pope.

When bishops go to parishes, people are more likely to be elated than angry. It’s easier to get favors from lawmakers today, because no politician wants to be on the wrong side of this pope. When a bishop enters a restaurant or gets into a cab, the first thing he’s likely to hear is something positive about Francis.

That boost from the “Francis effect” will be on display in September by the massive crowds and adoring coverage he’s likely to attract everywhere he goes.

For those reasons, be wary of overheated commentary styling the US bishops as the leaders of the church’s anti-Francis opposition. There are tensions, sure, but a new American revolution isn’t in the cards.

Papal silence on Asia Bibi

There’s disturbing news out of Pakistan this week about Asia Bibi, the Catholic mother of five sentenced to death by hanging in 2010 for the crime of “blasphemy,” allegedly for insulting the prophet Mohammed. She remains in prison while her final appeals make their way through Pakistani courts.

On Wednesday, her lawyer, Mushtaq Gill, was in Italy to drum up support for Bibi’s cause. However tiring the trip may be, Gill undoubtedly feels good about being away from his country for just a while, since defending Pakistanis accused of blasphemy is decidedly hazardous to one’s health.

In May, for instance, a lawyer and human rights activist who had taken up the defense cause in a separate blasphemy cause was shot dead by two gunmen in his office. An unsigned pamphlet claimed he met his “rightful end” for trying to “save someone who disrespected the Prophet Mohammed.”

Gill reports that Bibi, who’s in her early 40s and has been held in near-total isolation for five years, is “in ill health, with a high fever and strong headaches, and has lost hope.”

That’s despite the fact, according to Gill, that there’s actually a chance the Pakistani Supreme Court may annul her sentence, since those justices “are less subject to pressures from local radical groups.”

Gill said his message for the international community boils down to, “We need you.”

“We need international support,” he said. “You should put pressure on our government to eliminate this law. It’s become a weapon for persecuting minorities, above all, Christians.”

In August, a veteran Italian Vatican writer put the Bibi case on his list of Pope Francis’ “strange silences,” suggesting the pope had missed opportunities to supply the kind of international pressure to which Gill referred.

One assumes, of course, that Francis wants to see Bibi released. However, popes and Vatican officials always have to weigh their words carefully, out of fear that saying something provocative may make matters worse.

Back in 2011, Benedict XVI said something interpreted in Pakistan as a call for scrapping the blasphemy law, which set off demonstrations and brought scathing replies from political leaders along the lines of “stay out of our business.”

With that as context, one appreciates why the Vatican might prefer to operate behind the scenes.

Recently, however, Francis has sent signals that he’s less willing to be driven by diplomatic caution. At the end of his trip to Turkey last week, he used an airborne press conference to issue a direct challenge to Muslim leaders to be clearer in their condemnations of terrorism, beginning with ISIS.

Perhaps Francis will also decide this is a moment to push back a bit more forcefully on the Bibi case, calculating that his three well-received trips to Muslim nations and his break with the Western powers last year on Syria has bought some political capital he can now cash in.

Pakistan has had diplomatic relations with the Vatican since 1961 (for the record, 23 years longer than the United States). Perhaps Francis and his aides will conclude that, especially in light of Bibi’s deteriorating health, now is the time to put those ties to the test.

The divorce debate continues

In the past week, interviews with two influential bishops from different parts of the world have appeared, the upshot of which has been predictions that no change will be forthcoming on the church’s rules barring divorced and civilly remarried Catholics from communion.

Cardinal Angelo Scola of Milan, widely seen as one of the intellectual leaders of the European bishops, told the Italian dailyCorriere della Sera “I can’t see adequate reasons for a position that on the one hand affirms the indissolubility of marriage as beyond discussion, but on the other seems to deny it in the facts.”

Scola warned that allowing communion for Catholics who divorce and remarry without obtaining an annulment — a declaration that their first union was not a marriage under Church law — risks “almost a functional separation among doctrine, pastoral practice and discipline.”

“How can we say to young people getting married today, for whom the idea of ‘forever’ is always difficult, that matrimony is indissoluble, if they know that there’s always a way out?” Scola asked.

He said he believed that position was “by far the most followed” stance at the recent Synod of Bishops on the family, and predicted that Pope Francis will eventually decide to uphold the current practice.

Instead of allowing the divorced and remarried to receive communion, Scola said he supports speeding up the procedures for granting annulments.

In a Crux interview, Archbishop Anthony Fisher said something similar, playing down expectations of change. Fisher is the recently appointed Archbishop of Sydney, a protégé of Australian Cardinal George Pell, the pope’s powerful finance czar, and a Dominican who’s seen as one of the best minds on bioethics among the English-speaking bishops.

“The pastoral goal is to see how we’re we going to help people who are hurting,” Fisher said. “In this way things will change, and hopefully we’ll find some ways to help them.”

“But in the end, we’re not going to say ‘No, God got it wrong,’” he said, predicting that “after a year of discussion, we’re still going to say what Christ said.”

That echoes a line from Pell at a Crux forum in Rome in October.

“Some may wish Jesus might have been a little softer on divorce, but he wasn’t,” Pell said. “And I’m sticking with him.”

None of the means the debate over the divorced and remarried is closed, but it’s certainly a clear indication that the opposition to any change hasn’t gone away in the wake of the October synod. If anything it’s become emboldened, meaning it’s likely destined to be a bone of contention when the bishops gather again for a second synod on the family in October 2015.

If that synod fails to produce a broad consensus one way or the other, then at the end of a year-long process of reflection Catholicism will be back to where it all began. The $64,000 question will no longer be what the bishops think about opening up communion to the divorced and remarried, but what Pope Francis will do.

On that score, and with due respect to Scola or anyone else who thinks they know the answer, I’ve long said that this pope ought to come with a label like a pack of cigarettes.

The message would be, “Warning: Predictions are hazardous to your health.”

A bulletproof finance czar

Speaking of Pell, shortly after he was appointed the pope’s new Secretary for the Economy last February, I sat down with him for an interview and asked point-blank if within a year, he would be able to say exactly how much money the Vatican has.

His answer: “I’m never confident about the future, but things are already much clearer than they were six or seven months ago, and I’m sure they will be clearer still in 12 months’ time.”

It seems Pell is beginning to deliver on that promise, based on an article he wrote for Britain’s Catholic Herald that appeared on Friday.

The gist is that Pell and his team have discovered “hundreds of millions” of Euro in specific accounts of various Vatican departments that never made it onto the overall balance sheet, meaning that the Vatican is actually in better financial shape than originally thought.

Pell wasn’t suggesting any criminal activity, but simply that many departments had their own way of tracking funds and in the absence of a centralized accounting system, some funds never registered anywhere else.

Departments long had “an almost free hand” with finances, Pell wrote, and “very few were tempted to tell the outside world what was happening, except when they needed extra help.”

By the “outside world,” Pell clearly meant other Vatican agencies, too.

“It was impossible for anyone to know accurately what was going on overall,” he wrote, insisting that it’s changing now under the new financial regime decreed by Pope Francis.

From an insider’s point of view, what’s most interesting about Pell’s article is that he specifically singled out the Secretariat of State for keeping its money problems “in house.”

Not so long ago, the head of any other Vatican department would have been loath to point the finger at the Secretariat of State for anything, because it was once the 800-pound gorilla of the Vatican jungle, and people would have feared retribution.

The fact that Pell felt free to call out the Secretariat of State suggests one of two things, and quite possibly both.

First, that Pell is fearless, willing to call it as he sees it, regardless of consequences.

Second, given the unqualified support Francis has shown Pell, he now feels bulletproof, and he doesn’t have to sweat the reaction in other circles.

Anyone who’s known Pell over the years will have no problem believing the first point, and anyone who’s tracked the Vatican’s internal politics over the last 12 months probably will find the

 


Vatican Finds Hundreds of Millions of Euros ‘Tucked Away’

December 4, 2014

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/05/world/europe/vatican-finds-hundreds-of-millions-of-euros-tucked-away.html?emc=edit_tnt_20141204&nlid=25623166&tntemail0=y&_r=1#story-continues-1

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Vatican Finds Hundreds of Millions of Euros ‘Tucked Away’

By GAIA PIANIGIANI

DEC. 4, 2014

ROME — It turns out that the Vatican, one of the world’s more secretive institutions, has even been keeping some secrets from itself.

Cardinal George Pell, who took over as the Vatican’s chief financial official in February, said Thursday that his staff had turned up hundreds of millions of euros that the Vatican did not know it had. The funds were “tucked away” in various accounts, he said, and had not been tallied on the Vatican’s main balance sheets.

The cardinal presented the found money as a happy surprise. “We have discovered that the situation is much healthier than it seemed,” he wrote in an article for the magazine Catholic Herald, which is scheduled to be published Friday. “It is important to point out that the Vatican is not broke.”

Between the lines, though, there was less to be happy about. Cardinal Pell did not say that there had been any malpractice, but he hinted that it might explain why his own branch of the Curia, as the Vatican’s central administration is known, had been in the dark about the money.

“Problems were kept ‘in house,′ ″ Cardinal Pell said of the various arms of the Curia. “Very few were tempted to tell the outside world what was happening, except when they needed extra help.”

The cardinal did not say exactly where the cash had been kept, or by whom, but he did note that individual departments and congregations of the complex Vatican bureaucracy had long had “an almost free hand” with their finances and had historically preserved a high degree of independence, especially the Secretariat of State.

Cardinal Pell, originally from Sydney, Australia, moved to Rome early this year to head the newly created Secretariat for the Economy, which has been given responsibility for the financial affairs of the Holy See, the Vatican CityState government, and the almost 200 other entities that answer directly to the Vatican.

His appointment has been seen as a response to criticism from both within and without that the Vatican is too opaque and resistant to scrutiny. So he has started by the giving the books a thorough going-over.

“It is all the Vatican’s money, anyway,” said Carlo Marroni, who covers the Vatican for Italy’s leading financial newspaper, Il Sole 24 Ore. “Its balance sheets are worth billions of euros, so the findings are not even particularly crucial to their budget. Cardinal Pell’s announcement speaks more of how he is proceeding to centralize the Vatican’s economy and administration, without leaving anything behind.”

The cardinal has asked all departments of the Vatican to start following international accounting standards, and to prepare detailed, up-to-date financial reports. An outside auditing firm is to be named next year to examine those reports.

The Vatican’s scandal-plagued bank, the Institute of Religious Works, has undergone a similar process in recent years, and is now slowly working its way into compliance with international financial standards and money-laundering rules. Under Pope Francis, who was elected in March 2013, other Vatican departments have been urged to follow suit.

“A church for the poor should not be poorly managed,” Cardinal Pell said.

 


Planning year-end gifts? Don’t forget Voice from the Desert

December 3, 2014

 

Planning year-end gifts?

Don’t forget Voice from the Desert.

Thank you for your generosity.

[Frank]


12-2 SNAP/SCLA Release: Letter calls on Vatican to investigate the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

December 3, 2014

I thank Peter Isely, who sent me this news via email.

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12-2 SNAP/SCLA Release: Letter calls on Vatican to investigate the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

 

Survivor and Clergy Leadership Alliance (SCLA)/Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)—Milwaukee

 

Letter calls on Vatican to investigate the Archdiocese of Milwaukee Bankruptcy

 

CONTACT:
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414.429.7259
Fr. James Connell, 414.940.8045

 

Milwaukee, WI – December 2, 2014 – An open letter sent by a group of local priest and survivor advocates is calling on the Vatican to investigate the Milwaukee Archdiocese Bankruptcy (letter attached).

As reported today in the National Catholic Reporter (NCR), the letter presents six points under church law and practice that would justify such an investigation (full story here):

–Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki directed the church attorney to file for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court saying that the action “would provide a means to compensate victims/survivors with unresolved claims while allowing the archdiocese to continue its essential ministries.” No eligibility requirements were listed.

–The archdiocese “went to great effort and expense” to find victim/survivors. “Indeed, the bankruptcy claims process seemed inviting, not restrictive; it created hope for justice and healing.”

–About 575 claims of abuse were filed with the court.

–In 2013 it came to light that in 2007, then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal of New York, had transferred about $57 million into a trust fund for the perpetual care of nine cemeteries saying in a letter to the Vatican that the intent was “to provide improved protection of these funds from “any legal claim and liability.” That scandalized Catholics and non-Catholics, the letter stated.  Earlier this year, the archdiocese objected to all of the claims based on sex abuse, saying none had merit, but said it would be willing to compensate 125 claimants “only because doing so would be less expensive than fighting these claims in court,” according to the letter.

–While the archdiocese could change its approach, “the archdiocese appears to intend to continue on the course it has been following. … They intend to object to all the claims.”

–Documents in the court file show that legal and administrative fees have reached $18 million. ”There is enough money to compensate attorneys but not victims survivors.”

The Vatican is currently investigating an American Bishop, Robert Finn, for that diocese’s handling of sex abuse cases.

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Black Friday Special!

December 3, 2014

http://questionsfromaewe.blogspot.com/2014/12/black-friday-special.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+QuestionsFromAEwe+%28Questions+from+a+Ewe%29

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I thank George Bouchey for this link.

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Questions from a Ewe

“Test everything; retain what is good.” (1 Thes 5:21) A laywoman expresses concerns about issues in the Roman Catholic Church to foster positive dialogue by posing and exploring questions. Please remember that Canon Law says it is not only a right but a duty to question the church. Also, Canon Law provides an over-riding power to the sensus fidelium (sense of the faithful). By this, Canon Law says that if the sensus fidelium (collective of the faithful) reject a law, it is not valid.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Black Friday Special!

Last Thursday we celebrated Thanksgiving here in the United States and many celebrated the retail extravaganza “Black Friday” the following day with all its usual deals for toys, housewares, clothing and electronics.  However, hands-down this year, the best Black Friday deal did not come from a retailer but from Pope Francis.  On Black Friday, Francis announced “Get out of Purgatory Free” cards, otherwise known as plenary indulgences.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “Purgatory” is where one’s soul is excoriated until it shines brightly enough for heaven.  Though the sacrament of penance forgives people of their sins, forgiveness in the Catholic dogmatic style does not include freedom from punishment.  The Catholic Church teaches that people commit sins, and God forgives them using priests in confessionals as conduits, but then God will still exact at least a pound of flesh in punishment, typically in this quaint place called Purgatory.  It’s kind of like saying, “I forgive you for eating my cookie, but trust me, Bucko, I’m still going to make you pay for doing it.”  This might sound to the inexperienced as a non-forgiving form of forgiveness but let us not get caught up in pesky details lest we miss out on Pope Francis’ Black Friday special.

Moving on, let’s review “indulgences.”  They are like coupons one exchanges in lieu of enduring purgatorial punishment.   One can have partial indulgences which, as the name indicates, partially cover your punishment…sort of like a 50% off coupon.  Or one can have a plenary indulgence which completely gets rid of any punishment…sort of like a “get one free” coupon.

The actual statement published November 28th by the Vatican read as follows, “The Holy Father, on the occasion of the Year of Consecrated Life, will concede plenary indulgences, with the customary conditions, to all members of the institutes of consecrated life and other truly repentant faithful moved by a spirit of charity.” 

I read this very statement to my youngest daughter (in her 20s) assuming she would stop the car and excitedly exclaim, “Where can I get my indulgence?  I want an indulgence!”  I regret to inform you, this was not her reaction. After re-reading the statement to her today, she decided it was a story from “The Onion.”

Yes, such magnanimity is hard to believe so I understand how someone might confuse it with satirical writing on a comedy website.  But, no, this is REAL and the pope is sincere.  He is spraying anti-whoop-ass but not just willy-nilly into the atmosphere so that freedom from punishment lands on just any old surface.  He is following the “customary conditions” for indulgences.

I hope you are sitting down because my daughter did NOT know the customary conditions for indulgences.  Thus, I read them verbatim to her from a Catholic website. And, I read them to her again….and again…and again.  Finally she said, “This is more complicated than learning the rules for Monopoly…” and began speculating if rolling double sixes might have the same effect as receiving a plenary indulgence.

By the way, the “customary conditions” for an indulgence do not include paying oodles of cash, playing BINGO at the local Knights of Columbus hall, cheering for Notre Dame, walking backwards while reciting the rosary in Latin, or whistling “Lift High the Cross” while eating Lenten Friday fish-sticks.   The customary conditions are simply these: In addition to doing the pious act, 1) go to confession, 2) receive Holy Communion, 3) pray for the pope, and 4) be absent of all attachments to sin.

Holy crap, it was a slam-dunk until the whole “be free from sin” thing.  Not to fear.  If you don’t get the full plenary indulgence, you can still get a partial one.  It’s kind of like doing a very complex chemistry problem where you get partial credit for the things you did do correctly.

Buying and selling indulgences inspired people like Martin Luther to insist upon hierarchical reforms.  The hierarchy, being every bit or perhaps even less good natured about criticism then than it is now, excommunicated Luther but did reform the corrupt practices around buying and selling indulgences.  Thus, you cannot buy your way out of purgatorial suffering with indulgences purchased at a local Catholic boutique like Hobby Lobby.  But, you can still give them away!!!  Wondering what to get that special someone who is hard to buy for?  What to get for the person with everything?  Try going for an indulgence, gift wrapping it and giving it to your favorite someone this Christmas Season.  Certain restriction apply; see Pope for details.

 


Habemus Puppies

December 3, 2014

http://ncronline.org/sites/default/files/stories/images/francis%2C%20habemus%20puppies.jpg

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Priests join abuse survivors in call for papal investigation of Milwaukee archdiocese

December 3, 2014

http://www.jsonline.com/blogs/news/284512091.html

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Priests join abuse survivors in call for papal investigation of Milwaukee archdiocese

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel

Dec. 2, 2014 3:34 p.m.

|(4) COMMENTS

A group of sex-abuse victims and their supporters, including three Catholic priests, are asking Pope Francis to investigate the actions of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in its dealings with abuse survivors in the context of its nearly 4-year-old bankruptcy.

An open letter to the pontiff, released this week, raises many of the same concerns and allegations victims have raised during the bankruptcy. Among them: That the archdiocese cast a wide net inviting victims to file claims in the bankruptcy, but is now seeking to have them all dismissed; that it moved $57 million in cemetery funds into a trust to keep it from being used for settlements; and that the archdiocese would rather pay attorneys to fight claims than compensate survivors.

The letter was signed by members of the Milwaukee-based Survivors and Clergy Leadership Alliance and the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. Signers include four victims, at least three of whom have filed claims in the bankruptcy; and a couple whose son, John Pilmaier, was molested at the age of 7 in his Catholic School. Two of the signers—Peter Isely and Pilmaier, local leaders of SNAP—have had their cases thrown out. Pilmaier had already received a $100,000 settlement from the archdiocese, but argued that he had been misled during his mediation. Isely’s was dismissed as beyond the statute of limitations for fraud.

Two Milwaukee-area priests are among the signatories: the Rev. James Connell, the archdiocese’s former vice chancellor; and the Rev. Howard Haase of St. Mary’s Parish in Waukesha.

A spokeswoman for the archdiocese said in an email that it was the victims’ attorneys and creditors committee, not the archdiocese, that cast the wide net seeking claimants, and that the archdiocese warned the attorneys at the time that many survivors would be disappointed.

Julie Wolf said the archdiocese would have limited claims to those abused by diocesan priests, and would have excluded, for example, victims of religious order priests and nun, teachers in Catholic schools and others the archdiocese does not consider its employees. She said the bankruptcy was forced by a group of about 2 dozen victims who refused a $4 million settlement offer in 2010.

“It was not the archdiocese that created these false hopes,” said Wolf said.

In addition to Pope Francis, the letter was sent to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley of Boston, who was appointed by Pope Francis to head a committee tasked with protecting children from sexual abuse; the Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio, or ambassador, to the United States and Archbishop Jerome Listecki.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 protection in 2011 to deal with its sexual abuse claims. It is one of the largest Catholic Church bankruptcies to date, with more than 570 individuals alleging they were molested as children by a priest or someone connected with the local church. Legal fees in the bankruptcy have topped $16 million, according to the archdiocese.

Before entering bankruptcy, the archdiocese had spent $30 million on its sex abuse crisis, including settlements, legal fees and audit expenses, according to its web site.

About Annysa Johnson
Annysa Johnson is an award-winning reporter covering faith and spirituality in southeastern Wisconsin.

@jsfaithwatch anjohnson@journalsentinel.com 414-224-2061