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.
Basically, they were stuck with known abusers on their payrolls because of the long, tedious process of Vatican approved defrocking. In that regard, Dolan was not alone.
What makes Dolan special is the stridency with which he deflects and obfuscates about his own archdiocese's payoffs and the degree to which it is matched by equally strident condemnation of the non-Catholic world for its "immorality." Dolan is a master of the Church as victim rhetoric that so defines its fight against marriage equality and, God help me, birth control. To hear Cardinal Dolan tell it, the Philistines are ever at the hedgerow, determined to drag the Church into the ways of sin.
Its a clever bit of jujutsu that constantly repositions the Church's attempts to dictate social policy as a defense of their own rights. Here, after making the preposterous claim that the government will force the Catholic church to conduct gay marriages, he outlines the reasons that the Church must fight gay marriage in society at large. In other words, don't force us to gay marry people. It's our responsibility to force our view of marriage down everyone else's throat. As I said here, the argument is always for their freedom to righteously control everybody else. Why? Because the Church always knows what's best and must protect society from itself. To tell them otherwise is somehow, magically, to trample their religious freedom.
The framing of the argument against marriage is always that it is somehow an attack on the institution of marriage, rather than simply a desire for a significant portion of the population to participate in that institution. Cardinal Dolan's warnings against gay marriage are some of the most hyperbolic available, frequently equating it with polygamy and, ironically, sex outside of marriage.
If you look at our pedigree of the faiths represented here this evening, you’ll note that we’ve been cogent in our defense of marriage against a lot of things — frivolous divorce, polygamy, adultery, forced marriages, cohabitation, just to mention a few contemporary threats to marriage.
Contemporary threats? That reads like a laundry list of Old Testament marriage standards. That he does not see the irony!