Cardinal Dolan Sought Vatican Permission To Shield Millions In Assets From Lawsuits Filed By Victims Of Pedophile Priests

He has denied it for years, but today the truth came out. Via the New York Times:

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday revealed that in 2007, the diocese’s archbishop at the time, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund in order to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation. Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has in the past emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as archbishop of Milwaukee, and he reiterated in a statement on Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”

However, the files released Monday contain a letter he wrote to the Vatican in 2007, in which he explained that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican moved swiftly to approve the request, the files show, even though it often took years to remove known abusers from the priesthood. Abuse victims demanding transparency and accountability have long pressed for the release of the documents, and the victims’ lawyers had asked a judge to compel their release.

Bolding above is mine. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee declared bankruptcy in 2011.  Dolan has responded to today’s revelation on his blog.

Unfortunately, we have already seen how the release of these documents will cause some to raise old and discredited attacks – like priest-abusers having been “paid” to apply for laicization, (like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on) or that establishing a perpetual care fund from money belonging to cemeteries and designated for that purpose – as required by state law and mandated by the archdiocesan finance council – was an attempt to shield it from the bankruptcy proceedings. While certain groups can be counted-upon to take certain statements or events out of context, the documents released show plainly that the bishops have been faithful to the promises made over a decade ago: permanent removal from ministry of any priest who abused a minor; complete cooperation with law enforcement officials; and, strict child-safety requirements.

Catholic League blowhard Bill Donohue:

Under questioning by Jeffrey Anderson, an activist lawyer, Cardinal Dolan gravely disappointed the enemies of the Catholic Church: they were denied their “gotcha” moment. Indeed, pint-sized Anderson didn’t lay a glove on the big guy. Boring. That is the most accurate word to describe the deposition. Here is a list of the topics that Anderson pursued: the statute of limitations; a public list of accused priests; the process of handling deceased and elderly priests; laicization; false and substantiated allegations; compensation for priests let go from ministry; cemetery funds; parish finances; the scope of an archbishop’s authority; the effect of the scandal on Catholics. In short, there was nothing new—it was another fishing expedition conducted by a man who believes there should be one standard for the Catholic Church, and another for the rest of the world.