Archbishop Jerome Listecki addresses church abuse scandal

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki says the Catholic Church is ready to turn the page a day after thousands of pages of church documents were released.

The released documents provide new information about how the Milwaukee Archdiocese handled cases of sexual abuse. They detail the cases of sexual abuse by 41 priests. They show how church leaders responded and how they shuffled child-molesting priests from parish to parish for decades.

Also included in the documents was a letter from then Archbishop Timothy Dolan that some say proves Dolan committed federal bankruptcy fraud. The documents say he conspired with the Vatican to transfer $57 million from Archdiocese coffers to a new fund called the "Cemetery Perpetual Care Trust."

Here's some of the conversation between FOX6's Mike Lowe and Archbishop Listecki that took place on Tuesday afternoon, July 2nd.

Mike Lowe: It appears as though, then Archbishop Timothy Dolan was trying to remove problem priests, right? And, he ran into -- if not outright resistance from Rome, then certainly sluggish responses -- does culpability lie with Rome?

Archbishop Listecki: No, I don't think so.  I think you're governed by a set of canonical norms and laws that protect individuals, your rights, my rights as individuals within the church. And the church certainly imposes those norms upon individuals and makes sure there is an adherence to them.

Mike Lowe: If blame is spread around to everyone, it almost goes to no one, it almost absolves everyone  -- names are named in these documents.

Archbishop Listecki: Yeah, but I think what happened is you did see in doing due diligence, then Archbishop Dolan  -- now Cardinal Dolan -- addressing the issue and coming to some type of resolution.  That's why we have the list that we do. The vast majority is because of what Cardinal Dolan did.

Mike Lowe: Then Archbishop Dolan transferred $57 million in church assets into a trust fund.  Why did he do that?

Archbishop Listecki: Because it was always maintained as a trust.  He was only doing due diligence, and due diligence is that he was just making it legal, and those legal papers were reflecting the way it was always kept as a trust.

Mike Lowe: As you know, the accusation is he was trying to shield assets from lawsuits.

Archbishop Listecki: No. As you heard Cardinal Dolan's response to it, there's no truth to that whatsoever.

Mike Lowe: He -- in the report -- says quote 'I see an improved protection from any legal claims and liability.  How do you explain that?

Archbishop Listecki: When I say due diligence, he was making sure that the trust always would be maintained as a trust.

Advocates for the victims are calling that a "smoking gun" that shows Dolan was attempting to shield funds prior to bankruptcy. They're asking that it be investigated as fraud.