Vatican sex abuse scandal: Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of Milwaukee at the time, oversaw a Vatican plan to pay some priests accused of sex abuse to leave the priesthood, according to documents released Tuesday.
Newly released documents show the cardinal of the Archdiocese of New York, in his former job, repeatedly warned the Vatican office responsible for handling clergy sex abuse of the potential for scandal in Milwaukee and urged it to defrock abusive priests.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of Milwaukee at the time, also oversaw a plan to pay some priests to voluntarily leave the priesthood. The documents were made public Monday as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud.
Dolan — now president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the nation's most prominent Roman Catholic official — was in the spotlight Monday as the Milwaukee archdiocese released the documents in a deal reached in bankruptcy court with clergy sex abuse victims suing it for fraud.
Victims say the archdiocese transferred problem priests to new churches without warning parishioners and covered up priests' crimes for decades.
The documents provide new details on Dolan's plan to pay some abusers to leave the priesthood and move $57 million into a trust for "improved protection" as the Milwaukee archdiocese prepared to file for bankruptcy amid dozens of abuse claims. A Vatican office approved the request to move the money.
Victims' attorneys have accused Dolan of trying to hide the $57 million from victims. In a statement released Monday, Dolan called any such suggestion an "old and discredited" attack.
In his letter to the Vatican, Dolan wrote, "By transferring these assets to the Trust, I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability."
Dolan has not been accused of transferring problem priests. He sought to push problem priests out of the priesthood after people began coming forward with abuse claims in the early 2000s.