Monday, September 21, 2009

2009 Report on the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy

Our Archdiocese of Milwaukee's website has a sidebar link to the 2009 Accountability Statement page. That page lists all the prior Statements and, finally, has a link to the 2009 "Annual Update to the Faithful of Southeastern Wisconsin Regarding the Archdiocesan Response to Sexual Abuse of Minors by Clergy".

One item on page 3 summarizes the "Independent Clergy Sexual Abuse Mediation System". It's called "independent" even though our Archdiocese set it up unilaterally. I've raised this point before but this time, rather than just criticize, thought I'd suggest a better euphemism. It only took a few seconds to come up with "dedicated". Our Archdiocese could have referred to this as a "Dedicated Clergy Sexual Abuse Mediation System". This could have been sold on the basis that clergy sexual abuse cases needed and deserved a specialized system. It would still be misleading, but at least would have been more plausible.

Another item on page 3 is the "Distribution of Names and Status Updates of Priests".
In July 2004, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee published and distributed the names of diocesan priests of the archdiocese who have been (or would be if they were still alive) restricted from all priestly ministry, and may not celebrate the sacraments publicly, or present themselves as priests in any way because of substantiated reports of sexual abuse of a minor.
The list, as updated, only lists the priests names. It does not include where they had been assigned, and when, information that is potentially helpful and difficult for anyone else to reconstruct.

One item on page 4 is "Priests who are Members of Religious Orders". It begins by noting that a religious order priest needs the local bishop's permission to publicly minister in a diocese. This implies, though it does not say explicitly, that if an issue is sufficiently grave and unresolved, a bishop could require a priest or even the entire order to discontinue public ministry in his diocese. What the Report does go on to say is
Clergy, diocesan and religious, have an obligation of obedience to the pope and their own Ordinary. For the diocesan priest, the Ordinary is the diocesan bishop; for the religious order priest, the Ordinary is their major superior. Thus, religious order priests are the responsibility of the religious orders.
This does not say that religious order priests are the sole responsibility of the religious orders, but seems phrased to leave that impression.

On page 5 we read of "Clergy Sexual Abuse Lawsuits". There are cases alleging our Archdiocese committed fraud by reassigning priests known to have sexually abused children without notifying parishioners at the new assignment. Additionally, it appears, there are ten "personal injury", presumably abuse, cases pending, including two in Delaware. This item concludes "These pending lawsuits will have both a financial and pastoral impact on the archdiocese."

Which brings us, on page 6, to "Financial Impact of Clergy Sexual Abuse".
During the fiscal year from July 1, 2008, to June 30, 2009, the net financial impact of sexual abuse cases involving a diocesan clergy member and a minor was $1,562,100... . ...This includes $788,763 for therapy-related and victims/survivors assistance costs, including mediation agreements; ... and $734,986 for general attorney fees and other expenses.
Half for victims (and their lawyers), half for our Archdiocese's lawyers; still win-win! Bottom line:
Through June 30, 2009, the overall financial impact to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee of the clergy sexual abuse issue involving a diocesan priest and a minor was $28,133,921.



Anonymous stopclergyabuse said...

Thank you for your article on clergy abuse.

We have information on clergy abuse issues at

9:29 PM  

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