U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Susan V. Kelley had been expected to order the release of some of the documents as part of the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Wednesday.
The records had been sought by victims of sex abuse committed by priests in the diocese, and both the archdiocese and victims' attorneys characterized the decision as a major step toward transparency and healing for survivors of abuse.
By releasing the papers, Archbishop Jerome Listecki said in a letter to parishioners he hoped to "aid abuse survivors and others in resolution and healing,"
"We can't get closure for any of these survivors without this exposure and disclosure, and this goes a long way toward achieving that," said Jeffery Anderson, an attorney representing most of the 570 people with sex abuse claims in the bankruptcy.
The archdiocese agreed to release about 3,000 pages of documents. Names and information that could identify victims will be redacted.
Only documents pertaining to the 45 priests listed on the archdiocesan website as being credibly accused are being released.