Cardinal Timothy Dolan is rapidly becoming the poster child for hypocrisy in the Catholic hierarchy. This crusader for morality, whose public posturing against gay marriage and birth control keeps him at the forefront of the culture wars, goes strangely quiet when it comes to the cesspool of sex abuse that literally bankrupted the Milwaukee Archdiocese. Asked about the possible payoff of a pedophile priest, he deflected the charge as "false, preposterous and unjust." But it turns out that when he was Milwaukee's archbishop he, in fact, authorized numerous payoffs to known pedophiles in amounts as high as $20,000.
Documentation came to light as a result of bankruptcy proceedings that the archdiocese was paying off known abusers so that they would not contest laicization, aka. defrocking, and go quietly away. But victims groups are not amused.
A victims advocacy group, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, sent a letter of protest to the current archbishop of Milwaukee on Wednesday asking, “In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?”
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The newly revealed document is the minutes of a meeting of the finance council of the Milwaukee archdiocese from March 7, 2003, which Cardinal Dolan attended. The archdiocese was facing a flood of potential lawsuits by people claiming abuse, and the church’s insurance company was refusing to cover the costs because it said the church had been negligent. The minutes noted that “unassignable priests” — those suspected of abuse — were still receiving full salaries.
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The first known payment in Milwaukee was to Franklyn Becker, a former priest with many victims. Cardinal Dolan said in response to a reporter’s question at the time that the payment was “an act of charity,” so that Mr. Becker could pay for health insurance.
According to church documents, Mr. Becker was accused of abusing at least 10 minors, and given a diagnosis of pedophilia in 1983. The church paid more than $16 million to settle lawsuits involving him and one other priest.