October 12, 2010

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I write to tell you that a very constructive development in the local litigation related to clergy sexual abuse of minors is about to occur.

At present, there are 12 lawsuits filed by 15 victims/survivors alleging archdiocesan leaders committed fraud by failing to disclose past credible allegations about priests who had sexually abused minors when moving these priests to new assignments, enabling them to commit additional assaults.

In an effort to resolve these claims and bring some healing and peace to the victims/survivors, I directed our attorneys to ask the victims/survivors in these cases whether they would be willing to try to reach a settlement of these lawsuits through a mediation process.  I am heartened that the claimants, through their attorneys, have agreed to participate in a mediation that has been scheduled for October 18 in Chicago, with a retired Cook County, Ill., judge serving as the independent mediator.  I’ll be participating in this proceeding in an attempt to resolve these cases.    Reaching a just settlement of these claims would, of course, also carry the added benefit of avoiding the additional pain, huge financial costs, lengthy delays and further uncertainty that trials will cause.

This is a positive development for everyone.  Let me say with all sincerity that I am approaching this mediation with an open mind, a humble heart, and a willingness to jointly seek resolution, if one is possible.

It needs to be clear to everyone that this mediation is one more important step in a permanent, continuing archdiocesan journey to minister to the ongoing pain and suffering of the victims/survivors and their families.

My first nine months in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee has meant nearly total immersion in both the current victims/survivors’ issues and questions,  and reviewing what is now a 20-year history of initiatives taken by the archdiocese to respond to and resolve the needs of clergy sexual abuse victims/survivors.   What we have learned about the human damage and suffering of the victims/survivors makes it clear our goal must be to find ways to bring peace and comfort to these individuals and their families. Direct mediation talks between us may be that promising pathway.

Sometime after the mediation is concluded I’ll report to you on what was learned and what was accomplished.

Please pray for all those involved in this mediation, asking the Holy Spirit for wisdom and guidance, and join me in praying for all of those who have been harmed by clergy sexual abuse.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Jerome E. Listecki

Archbishop of Milwaukee