The New York Times website reports today (May 31, 2012) that Cardinal Timothy 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 "payoff" to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan -- then the archbishop -- responded that such an inference was "false, preposterous, and unjust."
But a document from the year 2003 unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee -- and made public by victims' advocates -- reveals that the archdiocese did in fact 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 yesterday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to "a handful" of accused priests in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee "as a motivation" not to contest being defrocked. This process -- known ecclesiastically as "laicization" -- is a formal Catholic Church juridical procedure that requires Vatican approval, and can take far longer if the priest objects.