‘Terrible things’ in Milwaukee abuse documents

The American archdiocese of Milwaukee has released 6000 pages of documents relating to clergy sex abuse, including the personnel files of 42 priests and the depositions of Church leaders including New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

Cardinal Dolan, now the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, was formerly archbishop of Milwaukee.

Cardinal Dolan’s successor in Milwaukee, Archbishop Jerome Listecki, said the documents describe “some terrible things”, with graphic descriptions that require spiritual preparation to read.

One repeatedly abusive priest engaged in sexual activity with a young boy, the child’s mother and her female friend.

The documents were made public as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud.

They show that whereas previous archbishops had covered up evidence of abuse and shuffled accused priests to new parish assignments, then-Archbishop Dolan pressed for prompt and decisive action against priests guilty of abuse.

He urged Vatican officials to respond promptly to requests for laicisation, and insisted that candour was essential to restore the damaged credibility of the Catholic hierarchy.

But lawyers for abuse victims complained that Dolan paid accused priests to accept laicisation and established a new cemetery trust fund to shield money from creditors.

Dolan, who said these were “old and discredited attacks”, said priests were paid to discharge the canon law obligation of dioceses to provide financial support for clergy; and the $NZ73 million placed in trust was always earmarked for cemetery care.

A 2011 deposition by former Archbishop Rembert Weakland said bishops in the 1980s dealt with priests who abused minors in much the same way as those who were alcoholics or had money problems.

Bishops viewed paedophilia as an “afflication”, Weakland said. “We were probably all of us naive in thinking that it was a question of willpower and a question of self-discipline. I handled cases [in the 1980s] thinking, hoping, praying that it would be the last one I would have to deal with.”


Catholic News Agency

National Catholic Reporter

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