Church paid sexually abusive priests to leave

NEW YORK Thu May 31, 2012 11:26am EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan authorized $20,000 payments to a handful of sexually abusive priests so they would immediately leave the Milwaukee archdiocese when Dolan was archbishop there nearly a decade ago, a church spokeswoman said on Thursday.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) first announced the payments on Wednesday upon discovering minutes of a March 2003 meeting of the Milwaukee archdiocese finance council meeting. SNAP is demanding full disclosure of all such payments.

Church officials confirmed the payments as approved in the minutes but archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said she had yet to determine how many priests received them, estimating the number at "a handful, a couple."

"This money has been characterized as bonuses or payoffs and that's simply not the case. In 2002 and 2003 when the clergy abuse crisis really came to a head, people were calling for priest offenders to be removed - get them out of there - and the church here agreed in order to expedite that process," Wolf said.

The payouts encouraged the abusive priests to voluntarily accept laicization, the process of turning an ordained priest into a lay person.

Had the priests contested laicization, it could have taken years during which time the priests would have received salary and benefits, Wolf said.

Dolan has become the face of the Catholic Church in the United States since moving from Milwaukee to New York in 2009, becoming president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010 and being elevated to Cardinal by the Vatican earlier this year.

(Reporting by Daniel Trotta; Editing by Jackie Frank)

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Comments (13)
cgallaway wrote:
So, let me get this straight….if you rape little boys, they pay you to leave, but if you are female and take birth control pills or have in vitro fertilization, then you can be fired? FN hypocritical catholic church.

May 31, 2012 1:18pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
redmerlot wrote:
They paid off these perverts to get rid of them, so they wouldn’t have to go through a long expensive court battle. It cost the church and its members a lot less money and time.
I get it.

Was it the moral thing to do? No. The church should always uphold what is right, expose the truth, and be completely up front with its members. The moral thing to do would have been to say, “Look, we screwed up, these people are pedophiles, and we are going to prosecute them.”

Once the church hides the truth for any reason, and makes decisions based on money, they lose all credibility as a spiritual entity. Plus, if these priests committed crimes, and the church knowingly concealed that and just paid them off to get rid of them, the church is criminally guilty as well as morally guilty.

There are many accounts in the Holy Bible where Jesus admonishes his followers to value God’s law over money. The famous scene where the people are protesting because their taxes have been raised is one. “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21)

I’m not even a religious guy, but there are many good lessons in that there Bible. Maybe the church should read it and follow it once in a while.

May 31, 2012 1:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
ignatzz wrote:
Dolan is a disgrace. If he’s the face of American Catholicism, it demonstrates why so many decent Americans have become disgusted with Catholicism.

May 31, 2012 1:22pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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