Clergy Abuse Victims Group Ask Pope To Give $57 Mil. To Settlement Fund

Wisconsin Public Radio

[with audio]

[letter to the Vatican]

A coalition of clergy abuse victims and clergy is asking Pope Francis to put $57 million into a potential settlement fund with Wisconsin victims.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese says the money is already set aside for use at cemeteries.

In 2007, then-Milwaukee archbishop Timothy Dolan got the Vatican’s approval to transfer $57 million of archdiocese money into a Catholic cemetery trust fund. During the now almost three-year-long archdiocese bankruptcy case, abuse victims have tried to reverse that transfer, but a federal district judge in Milwaukee has blocked the reversal.

The court’s decision is being appealed, but a coalition of victims and clergy has also written the Vatican, asking that it put the $57 million back in the archdiocese’s main fund. Abuse victim Monica Barrett says the Vatican may not have been told the full story in 2007, and she says she remains hurt by Dolan’s move.

”One again this archdiocese has chosen something behind closed doors, that affects many, many people,” says Barrett.

Barrett says she only recently found out that the $57 million is just for eight cemeteries and seven mausoleums the archdiocese owns, and not for parish cemeteries in the 10-county archdiocese. Archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski says the number of cemeteries shouldn’t be the question; the need for perpetual care is.

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