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Cardinal Dolan Says Money Paid to Priests Suspected of Abuse in Milwaukee Was for 'Basic Essentials'
Cardinal Timothy Dolan has denied that money paid to priests, suspected of carrying out sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee in the United States, were ‘payments’, but instead was money paid to help them take care of ‘basic essentials’ while they were being removed from the Catholic church.
Last month the New York Times published a story alleging that in 2003 the then Archbishop of Milwaukee, Dolan, authorised payments of up to $20,000 to sexually abusive priests so that they would agree to be dismissed from the priesthood. The story was based on a document a US survivors of sexual abuse group, SNAP, said it discovered during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The New York Times reported that a spokesman for the Archdiocese confirmed that payments were made to a ‘handful’ of priests ‘as motivation’ not to contest being defrocked.
Speaking to WorldIrish in a wide-ranging interview while attending the International Eucharistic Congress, Dolan cited one particular case where he said $9,100 was spent to purchase health insurance for a priest for one year until he would be covered by Medicare – the national insurance programme that gives Americans over the age of 65 access to healthcare.
“Because he was laicised he was no longer a priest, alleluia. The sooner we got him out the better. So I said ‘I will pay your year’s insurance’”.
Dolan also added that similar action was taken for other priests.
“Like it or not I had an obligation in justice even to these men who had done terrible things,” Cardinal Dolan said.
“Even though we are eager to get these priests out, I can’t say to them: ‘get lost I never want to see you again’ I’ve gotta say: ‘I at least must see that your basic essentials are taken care of’.
“So it’s not that we give them money it’s that we’ll say what do you need for insurance until you get back out of here. So that’s what it is,” he said.
When asked about the payments made, the Cardinal defended the money spent saying that when he arrived to Milwaukee in 2002 everyone there told him to do ‘whatever it takes’ to ‘get rid’ of the priests suspected of carrying out abuse as quickly as possible.
He said that in the cases from 2003 where money was paid to priests suspected of abuse the names were released and the public was alerted to them.
He said that in the last ten years the church has handed over all accusations of sexual abuse to the civil authorities.
The Cardinal said the details about the money paid had previously been in the public domain and accused survivors of sexual abuse group SNAP of ‘dragging’ up old stories.
“Groups like SNAP who get upset and say ‘uh oh’ we better drag up old dirt to try to stop the church from getting the credit it deserves’,” the Cardinal said.
“They can’t live with the fact that in the United States of America, even though the church has a long way to go recovering from this calamity and will never stop its outreach to victims we got a long way to go true, but we’re making tremendous progress.”
SNAP, which was founded in 1989, has 10,000 members in the US.
Cardinal Dolan also questioned the New York Times: “You know the New York Times doesn’t have much credibility for fairness and impartiality when it comes to reporting about the church either so consider the source.”
Read a full wide-ranging interview with Cardinal Dolan on WorldIrish.com on Thursday.