Milwaukee Archdiocese is running out of money

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Officials with the Archdiocese of Milwaukee says they are running out of money. This, as a federal bankruptcy judge is asked to suspend the legal fees of the Archdiocese. But critics of the Archdiocese say officials should have seen this coming when it chose to fight hundreds of claims of sexual abuse by priests.

Nothing seemed out of the ordinary at the Cousins Center on Friday, January 25th. But spokesperson Jerry Topczewski says unless the Archdiocese gets a break on its legal bills, it will run out of money within three months.

"The idea here is to make sure we reserve enough funds to continue our operations; the support and services and ministries that are provided to parishes and schools, provided in the community," said Topczewski.

Topczewski says the $9 million spent so far on legal fees would have been better spent by settling out of court with the survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Diocesan priests.

"When we had lawsuits filed against us, we tried to mediate those as well," said Topczewski. "Unfortunately, those could not be resolved; the amount of money offered was not accepted. That's what moved us into Chapter 11."

Peter Isely of SNAP, a survivors advocate group, says there is a good reason why people took the Archdiocese to court -- including some survivors who had previously reached an independent settlement.

"Judge Kelley is examining those claims and she has said several times in court that victim-survivors were misled by the Archdiocese in those settlement claims. That's the problem," said Isely.

Isely says the survivors seek something much greater than a paycheck. They want to know how much the Archdiocese knew and what it did with that information.

"60,000 pages of secret church documents detailing the cover-up of sexual abuse of children, some of the most heinous crimes we know of in our society, directly by bishops and archbishops in this Archdiocese. That's there the final destination is," said Isely.

The Archdiocese maintains this latest motion is not about stalling the case, rather remaining solvent. It adds parishioners should not worry about their donations covering legal fees. The Archdiocese says it has restricted where those dollars go.