January 22, 2005

Archdiocese strong, Dolan says, but sex abuse cases loom

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Posted: Jan. 21, 2005

Tempering boundless enthusiasm with future uncertainties, Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan this week described a spiritually vibrant and fiscally solvent archdiocese that also could face "very considerable" financial costs from 11 pending sexual-abuse lawsuits in California.

Dolan's "state of the archdiocese" talk to about 150 Catholic business and education leaders in The Wisconsin Club portrayed the church in southeastern Wisconsin as strong, growing, and hopeful. There still is a long way to go in restoring trust broken by the clergy sexual abuse crisis, but the archdiocese got high marks from outside auditors late last year for its programs to prevent future abuse and to help victims heal, he added.

He cited continuing financial challenges, including the pending lawsuits, but he also noted that the annual Catholic Stewardship Appeal had exceeded its goal for the third consecutive year. As of Monday, the nearly concluded 2004 campaign had raised about $7,578,800 from 56,183 donors, nearly $278,800 more than the goal, archdiocesan spokesman Jerry Topczewski said afterward.

Dolan's initial presentation did not use the "B" word - bankruptcy - a topic that has gained nationwide attention since Catholic dioceses in Portland, Ore., Tucson, Ariz., and Spokane, Wash., filed for bankruptcy in the face of millions of dollars in damage claims by victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Posted by kshaw at January 22, 2005 07:39 AM