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Milwaukee archdiocese paid abusive priests to accelerate laicization

Catholic World News - May 31, 2012

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee offered “a handful” of priests cash payouts to persuade them to leave the priesthood after they were implicated in sexual abuse.

The payments of up to $20,000 were authorized by Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who is now the Archbishop of New York, while he was serving as head of the Milwaukee archdiocese. The payments were offered in order to encourage the priests to surrender the salary and benefits that the archdiocese would otherwise have been obligated to pay them, and to leave the priesthood without contesting the archbishop’s move to force their laicization. In other words, the payments were made to accelerate the process of removing abusive priests from the clergy.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which has frequently denounced bishops for their failure to defrock clerical abusers, seized on the Milwaukee payments to level a sensational charge against the archdiocese and against Cardinal Dolan. In a blizzard of press releases, SNAP characterized the payments as bonuses, and implied that the archdiocese had given extra awards to molesters. “You don’t give a bonus to a man who rapes children,” said Peter Isely, a spokesman for SNAP.

The Milwaukee archdiocese has not disclosed how many priests were given payments to accept laicization. The payments were confirmed in documents submitted to a federal court in which the archdiocese is seeking bankruptcy protection.

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  • Posted by: wolfdavef3415 - May. 31, 2012 11:28 PM ET USA

    This is the moment we can all look at SNAP and wonder if they are really FOR abused chilfren or AGAINST the Church. If the payments were made to facilitate the removal of abusive priests who otherwise could have remained until due process played its (important, when you consider false accusations) role, this was the right thing to do. What if the priest had stayed long enough to earn $22,000? Then you have paid him $2,000 more AND exposed more children. Where's the good in that?

  • Posted by: koinonia - May. 31, 2012 7:49 PM ET USA

    As is each story that hits the news in this staggering PR debacle for the Church, this one is also going to prove difficult. Remember: The diocese is seeking bankruptcy protection. It's seminal leader has embarassed the archdiocese by recounting his own sexual issues in his published memoirs. The physical, psychological and spiritual pain of the victims is ongoing. The Church's enemies have been provided with copious progaganda material to assault the Church. There is nothing good about it.

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