NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) – The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirms it paid suspected pedophile priests $20,000 to help them transition to life outside the priesthood.
A document that surfaced in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy case shows the money-to-transition policy was formed under Milwaukee’s then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan. Dolan is now a Cardinal and head of the archdiocese in New York.
According to a document published by abuse victim’s advocates, Dolan discussed the policy during a Financial Council meeting in 2003.
The 2003 policy discussion was apparently put into practice, according to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. The group cited a 2006 document which confirmed Fr. Franklyn Becker was paid $10,000 to sign his laicization papers.
SNAP calls the practice a payoff to priests who abuse children.
Dolan had denied any such pay-outs at the time, calling the inference “false, preposterous and unjust.”
The cardinal has not responded to requests for comment.
“Can’t victims be treated at least as well in this archdiocese as the priests that raped them,” Peter Isely of SNAP said.
Milwaukee archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said the disclosure of the payouts is “not new news,” adding that it was not meant to be a reward, but rather provide cash to allow the priests rejoining the laity to retain essentials like health care.
The Milwaukee Archdiocese filed for bankruptcy last year. It faces potential lawsuits by 23 alleged abuse victims.
Meanwhile, a new Quinnipiac University poll, conducted before the news came out, finds Dolan is beloved by 63 percent of New York Catholics.
Thirty-three percent said he has overstepped his bounds by getting too involved in politics, notably in the challenge of contraceptive coverage in the health care reform law.
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