Sunday, July 21, 2002

The full story, more or less, of a restitution repaid.

On Saturday 13th from Akron on my journey, I posted a tiny bit of good news from Milwaukee, belatedly but first in St. Blog's. Gerard picked it up on Monday, and reposted it on his much more popular blog, and even called me "a good reliable source." (Thanks, Gerard!) But now that I'm back at the anchorhold with my own computer and my stack of Catholic Herald, I'm overdue for full story telling ---- especially since it seems now nobody agrees what's up, and I don't want to be nailed as inaccurate even if I'm not really a news site.

As everybody knows by now, on May 23rd we all learned that the details of our long-ago confessed and forgiven sins can become the business of everybody, and then on May 31st our beloved retired archbishop made a complete and very public apology, during which he made it clear that he considered himself bound to make restitution to the archdiocese for the money spent on the settlement with my ex-classmate Paul M.

In the Catholic Herard of June 6th (the issue that covered the apology) there was a letter to the editor signed by a very diverse group of Milwaukee Catholics, proposing that we faithful of Milwaukee show appreciation for Archbishop Rembert's service to us by helping to erase that perceived debt, maybe even by the feast of SS. Peter and Paul at the end of June. I blogged this letter in its entirety on June 7th. A few days later, the local television news outlets were covering a group of elderly ladies who called themselves "Friends for Weakland," who were beginning a direct mail campaign using their Christmas card lists to raise money to ease the archbishop's burden. In short order they had erected a simple web site, www.friendsforweakland.com, with a link to the apology and a form to print out to send money. They figured that $253,000 would be sufficient to cover the balance. In the June 20th Herald on page 7, there was a news blurb about the Friends for Weakland Committee, and the web site dedicated to "Help to lighten the archbishop's burden."

Beginning on July 1st, the Friends web site was going to start issuing updates of the amount they had raised; that report on the first said they had raised $85,000 to that date. Of course, the archdiocese was also receiving other funds from the letter on the 6th and from other inspired Milwaukee faithful.

In the July 4th Catholic Herald, on page 21, an article titled "Finance Council to take active role in overseeing settlements" had two paragraphs at its end:

Schneider and Cusack said the archdiocese is being particularly careful with the accounting and acknowledgement of incoming donations to defray the amount Weakland said he will repay the archdiocese for the $450,000 Marcoux settlement.

The monies, which amounted to $265,000 as of Tuesday, July 2, are the result of individual contributions and grass-roots fund-raising efforts ---- including the "Friends for Weakland" campaign ---- and are not associated with Milwaukee archdiocesan fund raising in any way, they emphasized. A May 31, 2002, archdiocesan statement showed $196,723 in monies from Weakland's stipends, honorariums, and gifts, and account interest. This is to be applied to repay the settlement.


The Friends web site picked up on this, and as soon as they could confirm this, they declared their goal achieved, sometime before the weekend. By Tuesday 9th (the next time I saw a computer, I was traveling) the Friends had spoken to the archbishop about what to do with excess monies they had not yet sent to the archdiocese; and had changed the address on the printout form from themselves to the Cathedral Center for homeless women and children. I waited a few days just in case something went wrong, and also because I'm not a news blog. I figured one of the news bloggers would jump on this, even if only to prove how crazy Milwaukee Catholics are. When no one I could read with Netscape had posted it by Saturday 13th, I did, and Gerard, sweet Gerard, picked it up.

So I came home this weekend, and in my huge pile of accumulated postal mail was the July 18th Catholic Herald, the current issue, which has a very interesting article on our topic, I'll post/publish this, and make that article a separate post, lest I lose all this typing again.
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