At issue are the fact that several payments of up to $20,000 were made to pedophile priests, essentially as payoffs to make them quietly leave the employ of the Church. One case in particular seems destined to bring down Cardinal Dolan.
But first, it’s important to note that in 2006, then-Archbishop Dolan lied to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen, claiming the “laicization” — formal church juridical defrocking (read: firing) of a priest — of Franklyn Becker, who was accused of sexually at least ten minors, did not include a “payoff,” as the New York Times reported last week. Yet, the Milwaukee archdiocese spokeman’s statement says that Becker in fact was paid off.
The Times last week reported:
Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”
But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.
Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College, and director of the college’s Program on Public Values, Mark Silk, yesterday wrote that “For all Dolan’s bluster, there just isn’t any way around it.”
The “it” is that Dolan authorized payments to Franklyn Becker to leave the church — and they weren’t charity as Dolan, again lying, stated.
Quoting Dolan’s statement from Monday, Silk writes:
Bear in mind that the issue at hand is the veracity of Dolan’s September 8, 2006 statement in reponse to a query from Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen:
For anyone to assert that this money was a “payoff” or occurred in exchange for Becker agreeing to leave the priesthood is completely false, preposterous and unjust.
What this was, instead, was an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching, that allowed a person to obtain health insurance coverage he simply could not afford on his own. If people want to criticize me for that charity, so be it.
This letter from Dolan to Pope Benedict XVI (before he became Pope), in particular, seems to establish the payoffs. Professor Silk writes of documents from 2003 about Becker, presumably including the one which I uncovered yesterday:
The documents make it clear that Dolan’s claim that the $10,000 was for Becker’s health insurance is bogus–not only because Zimbrich says so explicitly, but because Becker’s request for the insurance coverage came after he had received the check. If the money was not such “an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching,” what was it? Exactly what Zimbrich said was: a settlement. For all Dolan’s bluster, there just isn’t any way around it.
No, there just isn’t any way around it.
Last week, Andrew Sullivan asked, “Cardinal Dolan, Brazen Liar?” Yesterday, Sullivan asked, “Dolan: Is He A Republican Pol Or A Cardinal?” He writes, referring to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests:
You heard that right. A cardinal from a church revealed to have operated a global child rape cover-up for decades says the chief group for the victims ”has no credibility whatsoever.” After this outburst, Dolan took a week off in Ireland.
It’s time for Timothy Cardinal Dolan to confess, or to forever bear the stain of not only Franklyn Becker’s atrocities, but his own lies in covering up the abhorrent act of paying off pedophile priests.
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