Clergy abuse victims say they hope the new Pope will bring change to the Catholic Church. But there may not be any change in strategy for the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy case.
The bankruptcy case is now in its third year, with the church spending millions of dollars in lawyers' fees trying to knock many claimants out of the proceedings. Abuse victims say the Milwaukee Archdiocese is taking the most aggressive stand of any of the Catholic Church bankruptcy cases in the U.S. Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki says he doesn't expect the new pope to order any change in the church's position.
"The pope doesn't give me direction on this. This is the archdiocese of Milwaukee. It was basically my decision in terms of taking us into that to fulfill two things: to help pay for those who have legitimate claims, and also to make sure the mission of the church continues. But the papacy, the pope and and the Vatican have nothing to do with the bankruptcy."
Peter Isely is the Midwest director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused By Priests. Isely says he doubts that the Vatican has no influence over Archbishop Listecki on the bankruptcy issue.
"I find it inconceivable that Archbishop Listecki is not doing this on behalf of other bishops within the hierarchy, to see if they can squash this ... or no documents will come out any more, no depositions are going to come out."
Isely says the Vatican has been involved with other U.S. church bankruptcies. Isely says he realizes the new pope has a lot on his plate, but hopes Pope Francis is brought up to speed quickly on the bankruptcy case, and the need to declare zero tolerance for sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.