The spiritual, social and economic consequences of the sex abuse scandal by predator-priests will last for quite some time still.
The economic consequences are the easiest to quantify, but they aren’t as important as the spiritual and social damage. The diocese of Milwaukee is the latest to go bankrupt as a result of the scandal:
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which serves 644,000 Catholics in southeastern Wisconsin, filed for bankruptcy, citing lawsuits alleging sexual abuse by priests.
The petition, filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee, listed as much as $50 million in debt, not including payments that may need to be made related to personal-injury lawsuits. (Source)
This is at least the 8th diocese in the U.S. to file for bankruptcy under the weight of its sins.
In a statement published on its website, the diocese is very blunt about the cause of the bankruptcy:
We are in Chapter 11 for one reason: because priest-perpetrators sexually abused minors. (Source)
No beating around the bush.
From a financial standpoint, the bankruptcy will allow the parish to finally move forward because it serves as a “last call” for any victims who haven’t yet come forth. So don’t be surprised if you hear of new victims going public in the coming days.
But the diocese is well aware that the consequences of these sins will linger:
Judging from bankruptcy proceedings involving other dioceses in the United States, we expect to complete the reorganization process in 12 to 18 months. But it’s important to realize we will never put the clergy sex abuse scandal “behind us.” It has become a permanent piece of both our history and, as a Church, it has created a need for ongoing ministry to those who have been harmed. (Source)
It should also create a need for ongoing screening of seminarians and priests. That’s the best way to prevent a recurrence of this tragedy.