Cardinal Dolan's Payments to Pedophiles
Frederick Clarkson printable version print page     Bookmark and Share
Sun Jun 03, 2012 at 10:41:18 PM EST
When Timothy Dolan was elected president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2010, Frank Cocozzelli wrote that this was an indication that "They are going to escalate the culture wars at the expense of economic justice."

The Dolan-led Bishops and their allies on the Religious Right have certainly lived up to that prediction, even as it is worth underscoring that they had been moving in that direction for some time.  This is important context for what I am going to say here.   But this is not about that.

I couldn't help but notice that Cardinal Dolan is listed, as of this writing, as among the invited and confirmed speakers for the Values Voters Summit, the premier annual political conference of the Religious Right. Held in September, it is sponsored by such leading groups as The Family Research Council and AFA Action, the political arm of The American Family Association.  

Dolan is among those who have been invited but have not yet confirmed. He joins an impressive roster of conservative movement leaders, GOP politicians and Fox News celebrities. While the final mix will undoubtedly be different than the current page, I can't help but wonder whether the invitation will be quietly withdrawn or perhaps, quietly declined.

The reason for such a discreet move might be the extraordinary recent story about how when Dolan was Bishop of Milwaukee, prior to his promotion to New York, he paid off priests accused of child sex abuse with as much a $20,000 to leave the priesthood.

The New York Times recently reported:

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.

Minutes of a meeting presided over by Dolan in 2003 inwhich the payments were discussed, were part of the 2011 bankruptcy proceedings of the Diocese of Milwaukee, but only recently became public. Dolan had denied at the time that such payments constituted a "payoff" to pedophile priests. But that, it turns out to be exactly what they were. He refused to speak to the Times, but the story has made for riveting national news. (Such as this report on ABC News. National Catholic Reporter has a detailed run down of the scandal.)

But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) made a point quoted in the Times' report that may haunt the values voters crowd for years to come:

"In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?"



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Dolan decides to attack the press for reporting on his payments. It reminds me of Bernie "Above the Law" blaming the Boston Globe's press coverage for the sexual abuse scandals. I wonder why Dolan doesn't look in the mirror first when he thinks about who is to blame for the scandal? He's a wannabe Spellman, but fails to see how he and his fellow bishops have forfeited their moral authority with many of us lay Catholics.

Frank was and is right about the whole thing. It is almost like steeplejacking, but it's a centralized thing given our centralized church governance.

by khughes1963 on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 12:47:47 PM EST

Dolan seems to be a wanna be pope.  But it also seems that too much rot will be exposed before that can happen.

by Frederick Clarkson on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 01:02:47 PM EST
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The rot goes all the way to the top, and there's big money behind that and the effort to crack down on the LCRW. For one thing, the sisters have assets that could nicely plug the holes in American diocesan budgets, holes that to a large extent came about due to the hierarchy's efforts to conceal sexual abuse and the consequent litigation.

by khughes1963 on Mon Jun 04, 2012 at 07:08:33 PM EST
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the Vati-leaks, the Vatican bank scandals and basically the 2000 year old evidences of the corruption of the institution of the Catholic Church and its horrific actions against millions of people, I am wondering how much more it will take before practicing Catholics just walk out the doors. The Irish got fed up enough to close their Vatican embassy and begin the clean out of their school system. They continue to hold the Church's feet to the fire over the proven cover ups and declarations by the Pope in writing the the Church is above any governmental laws and does not have to follow them.  Here in America Catholics should be in the streets protesting the pervasive immorality of this institution,  and follow that up with a massive exit plan. The idea that things can be changed by working within the Church should have been discarded long ago. It is not going to happen.

by BGBlade on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 09:22:27 AM EST
The topic of this site is the religious right and what to do about it.  Let's stick to the topic, please.

I wrote this post not because of the child abuse scandal but because of the politics of the occasion, as Dolan has been invited to address the Values Voters Summit next fall, and the role of Dolan and certainly other similarly tarnished prelates makes for fractures in an ostensibly pro-traditional family political coalition.

While there are gray areas, let's draw a bright line here: This is not a place for gratuitous concern trolling about what American Catholics should or should not do, or for making broad generalizations about this or any other religious institution. You are walking up to and right past a TOS violation.  Don't do it again.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 01:24:34 PM EST
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come across as someone who was using this site to push any personal agenda or participate in "concern trolling". I was just reacting to the story and giving my opinion. There were references to the child abuse and to "rot" in the other comments, so I was just following along and offering what I thought was a solution to the second part of your guideline- "what to do about it".  I did not criticize what Catholics believe. Many Catholics have broken away from the main church and formed their own newer institutions, which I think is a good idea. I just do not see any other way to temper this institution other than to withdraw support of it. However, if making that suggestion violates your rules to comment on this site, then I certainly will keep that in mind whenever I comment.

by BGBlade on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 03:09:43 PM EST
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and are opportunistic in your approach. The TOS also makes clear that the comment threads are not for arguing with the moderators.

We are not kidding about the kind of conversation we want to have, and take a dim view of people who are looking for the proverbial opening in hopes of being able to drive a truck through it. We know a truck when we see one.

by Frederick Clarkson on Tue Jun 05, 2012 at 05:54:36 PM EST
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Your own About page says: "What if the goal of the site were not just education and the expression of opinions, but to think about and encourage taking action?"

Isn't that exactly what the poster was doing? Thinking, reacting, and encouraging action?

by Jafsie on Sat Jun 09, 2012 at 06:56:34 PM EST
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The dour, unconstructive commenter was disparaging Catholics for being Catholics -- which flies in the face of the culture of mutual respect we encourage here.

If we are going to have a politics and a culture in which religious pluralism is respected, for Christians and non-Christians, religious and non-religious people, and is reflected in the law of the land, we need to practice it here. In fact, we require it. Or at least we try our best.

by Frederick Clarkson on Sun Jun 10, 2012 at 07:23:06 PM EST
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