Cardinal Timothy Dolan is under fire after news broke that he hid $57 million from the victims of the Roman Catholic Church’s pedophile priest sexual abuse victims. In 2007, then the Archbishop of Milwaukee, Dolan transferred $57 million into a cemetery trust fund after seeking permission from the Vatican. Dolan is now serving as the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), making him the nation’s top Catholic.
So says the New York Times in a bombshell disclosure of after the release of “more than 6,000 pages of documents.” The Times reports that Dolan in the past refereed to these claims, made previously, as “malarkey” and “groundless gossip.”
Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”
However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.
Those files also show that “Milwaukee harbored some of the nation’s most notorious priest pedophiles, including the Rev. Lawrence Murphy, whom a church therapist assessed as having molested as many as 200 boys during his two and a half decades teaching and leading St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis, Wis., and Sigfried Widera, who faced 42 counts of child abuse in Wisconsin and California,” the Times reports:
Father Murphy died in 1998, and Father Widera committed suicide in Mexico in 2003.
In his letter, Archbishop Listecki said the documents showed that 22 priests were “reassigned to parish work after concerns about their behavior were known to the archdiocese,” and that 8 of those “reoffended after being reassigned.”
Joseph Amodeo, who resigned last year from the board of NYC’s Catholic Charities, told The New Civil Rights Movement last night via electronic message that the “recent revelations regarding Dolan’s attempts to shield assets from victims of sexual abuse further demonstrate that the veil of secrecy that has plagued the Church must be lifted.”
“We can no longer allow a Church that claims moral authority to hide behind tactics that subvert the essence of justice. Morality must be lived in order for it to be true. Perhaps the time has come for the laity to organize a Fortnight for Justice for the victims of sexual abuse and all those who have been further marginalized by the Church’s hierarchy.”
Amodeo earlier this year lead a small group of silent Catholic protestors who were threatened with arrest by a New York City Police detective, unless they first washed their hands. The group was responding to Dolan’s blog post in which he told gay people who wish to participate in the Catholic faith, you must first “wash your hands!”
The files released yesterday also show Dolan “paid $20,000 to abusive priests who agreed not to fight their dismissal from the priesthood” once they were found out to have committed sexual abuse acts, the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinal reports in this shocking report:
In the decades before Dolan — now cardinal of New York — arrived in 2002, church leaders, including now-retired Archbishop Rembert Weakland, routinely moved pedophile priests from one parish or school to the next, shielding them from criminal charges, the records show.
And when they did try to dismiss sex abusers from the priesthood, Dolan and Weakland were met by a Vatican bureaucracy that moved at a glacial pace, causing the process to slog on sometimes for years.
One case, involving the now-defrocked Father John O’Brien, dragged on for five years, even though O’Brien was convicted of fourth-degree sexual assault of a teenage boy and had sought his own dismissal. At one point a Vatican official wrote to Dolan saying he could not turn the case over to Pope Benedict XVI for a final decision without “an admission of guilt and a sincere expression of remorse.”
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