When Cardinal Timothy Dolan ran the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he said OK to paying pervert priests up to 20 grand as “incentive” to get them to leave their posts.
A report in the New York Times, using info from that Archdiocese’s recent bankruptcy filings, notes that Dolan gave the greenlight for payments: “to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood.”
Back then, he vehemently rebuffed any and all allegations of doing anything like that, calling such claims: “false, preposterous and unjust.” Alas, a spokesman for Milwaukee told the newspaper that payments did take place so priests wouldn’t contest defrocking, a process known as “laicization.”
Now, there seem to be a couple of problems involving the policies of America’s top Roman Catholic cleric.
To be perfectly clear, we reached out to Dolan to see what he had to say, but his office referred us to Milwaukee, even though we explained that we wanted to talk to him or someone who could speak directly on his behalf. So he has a chance to say his spiel and still can reach out to us if he wants.
That said, here’s what we wondered about: Has “America’s Pope” had an appropriate attitude toward the handling of sex abuse scandals?
Here’s why we ask: in addition to this pervert payment scheme, Dolan has also come out against the Child Victims Act, which would extend the statute of limitations for victims of sexual abuse. If made into law, underage victims would have five more years to report crimes after age 18 — so the limitations “count” wouldn’t until they reach age 23. Victims of abuse would also have a one-year window to file civil lawsuits if the statute of limitations prevented them from doing so before. Worth noting: The measure applies to all cases of child sexual abuse — not just those perpetrated by clergy.
Dolan has come out against the measure, saying that it would not punish perpetrators of molestation, but would actually hurt the church’s charitable activities and is “unjust” to Catholics. He says that the diocese would have to spend millions on legal defense rather than helping other people.
He’s been widely quoted as saying:
“What suffers are the services and the ministries and the apostolates that we’re doing now. Because where does the money come from? So the bishops of 30 years ago that allegedly may have re-assigned abusers, they don’t suffer. They’re dead, all right? So the people that suffer are those who are being served right now by the church. And we feel that is a terribly unjust burden. That schools close and charities shrink, all the good work that the church does.”
We’re not saying that his opposition to the Child Victims Act necessarily proves anything — there are always problems with laws, even if they aim to do good. Surely, however, Dolan could take a proactive position and offer an alternative solution to an important concern — how to make sure victims of sexual abuse get justice. It’s not like he’s too shy to engage in the legal process, considering his HHS lawsuit and lobbying efforts against abortion.
Also, it’s def not overreaching to say that these Dolan developments could have broad — and damaging — implications for the Catholic Church. Though Dolan is a fav among Empire State faithful, remember that Catholics nationwide are leaving the Church en masse — largely owing to its handling of child abuse allegations.
And let’s not forget: He isn’t exactly doing any favors for the church in the P.R. department. Indeed, recent criticism of America’s nuns for helping the poor and sick has just drawn attention back to these abuse allegations, as the sisters have publicly called the move a ruse to avoid addressing longstanding concerns over child molestation. The nuns have asked Dolan to defend them against the Vatican — which could suggest his solidarity with them on this issue. So far, he hasn’t.
[H/T City & State]
Follow Victoria Bekiempis @vicbekiempis.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on May 31, 2012