Cardinal Timothy Dolan Authorized Payments to Sexually Abusive Priests

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Photo: Neilson Barnard/2009 Getty Images

New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan approved payments of up to $20,000 for priests accused of sexual abuse to go away quietly while he was the archbishop of Milwaukee, the New York Times reports, despite calling past accusations about payoffs "false, preposterous and unjust." Paperwork revealed during the Wisconsin church's bankruptcy filing confirms the payments, which a spokesperson now calls "an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less." In response to the news, the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests asks in a letter, "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?"

Dolan served as Archbishop in Milwaukee from 2002 until 2009, when he took the same post in New York, "a city closer to Sodom than to Eden," as New York described it then. Earlier this year, he was made a cardinal amid an ongoing battle with Obama over contraception. 

The Milwaukee archdiocese insists the payments under Dolan were to help the "unassignable priests," a.k.a. sexual abusers, transition out of church life without losing health care. "It's not new news," a spokesperson said.

But the proposal offered $20,000 "as a motivation," they admit now, not to fight the process of "laicization," or being defrocked, in addition to a $1,250 monthly pension payment, and health insurance until the disgraced men found another job. "You don't give a bonus to a man who rapes children," a SNAP director told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "If they paid them anything it should have been for therapy and counseling." As the advocacy group notes, the payments made to priests were not much less than the $30,000 the church wanted to give the victims.