Bankruptcy Chronicles

All of the cool cats are doin’ it this season!

The Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy is sloggin’ through the courts, complete with mysterious monetary maneuvers, secret payouts and cardinal denials that would make St. Peter blush. And that’s just the beginning.

In the Diocese of Gallup, the 341 meeting with creditors is scheduled for December 19. This first big public hearing is the chance for creditors (in this case, victims of abuse) to ask questions of Bishop Wall and his attorneys about the bankruptcy. In other dioceses, such as Wilmington, Delaware, these hearings have been a window into the soul of the diocese.

From the Associated Press‘ coverage of the Wilmington 341 hearing:

But [Wilmington Diocese CFO Joseph] Corsini drew a hostile reaction when, in response to a question from a victims’ attorney about the diocese’s assets and liabilities, said he was looking at “a roomful of liabilities” [referring to the victims in the courtroom]. He quickly apologized for the remark.

Now, the Diocese of Stockton is doing the pre-bankruptcy dance. Saying that “no viable option has emerged other than reorganizing financially under the protection of bankruptcy court,” Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire announced that the California diocese will probably declare bankruptcy after the first of the year.

Of course, other viable options could have included removing Fr. Michael Kelly from ministry before a civil court found that he had abused a 10-year-old boy (and before the priest absconded to Ireland). Heck, Bishop Blaire could have saved millions of dollars by NOT engaging in a years-long underhanded legal battle with Kelly’s victim. Other viable options would have been for then-Bishop Roger Mahony to have removed serial predator Oliver O’Grady and informed law enforcement when he first learned that O’Grady was molesting kids. That could have saved millions of dollars and dozens of lives.

But children’s lives have never been a part of the “bottom line” for these church leaders. Unfortunately, moral bankruptcy can’t be tallied on a ledger sheet.



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