Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.
Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a â€œpayoffâ€ to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was â€œfalse, preposterous and unjust.â€
But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victimsâ€™ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.
A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to â€œa handfulâ€ of accused priests â€œas a motivationâ€ not to contest being defrocked. The process, known as â€œlaicization,â€ is a formal church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.
â€œIt was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less,â€ said Jerry Topczewski, the spokesman for the archdiocese. â€œTheir cooperation made the process a lot more expeditious.â€ [more]