The Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee faces numerous civil fraud lawsuits over its handling of pedophile priest cases; it turns out that it had a plan to pay off those priests to turn over their clerical collars. (Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel):

A document made public in the archdiocese’s bankruptcy recounts a 2003 meeting of its Finance Council, which included then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan and his auxiliary, Bishop Richard Sklba. According to the minutes, members discussed the church’s handling of sex abuse complaints, a looming budget deficit and various proposals to cut costs. Among them: offering “unassignable priests” $20,000 for laicization, “($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion of the process).”

The church has acknowledged paying $10,000 to at least one former priest, Franklyn Becker, who was defrocked in 2004, after Isely, who learned of the payment from Becker, raised the issue in 2006.

The 2003 minutes appear to be the first indication that the archdiocese may have had a formal policy to pay problem priests to leave.

A second former priest, Jerome Wagner of Fond du Lac, said Wednesday that he received $20,000 to seek laicization but characterized it as charity rather than a payoff on the part of the archdiocese.

What kind of justice is this for the victims? By the way, these bonuses to the priests who molested and raped children is only $10,000 less than the $30,000 the archdiocese was looking to offer to those victims. And look at who is behind this — none other than Cardinal Timothy Dolan, now head of the Archdiocese of New York and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. Truth Wins Out details the long anti-gay record of this man working in his capacity as a spiritual leader to attack LGBTs.

He has led his brother bishops in a sustained campaign of spiritual bullying against LGBT people and their Catholic allies that has become a top priority for church leaders. In fact, I would go so far as to say that Dolan, more than any other prelate, represents the public face of institutional Catholic homophobia in America.

Dolan’s bigotry isn’t new, either. In 2006, anti-gay activists in my home state of Wisconsin put a constitutional marriage discrimination amendment before voters in the November midterm election. While I, my husband Michael, andthousands of other equality supporters pounded pavement, knocked on doors, lobbied our elected officials, testified at hearings, and held rallies, educational events, and one-on-one conversations across the state in an ultimately ill-fated effort to defeat the bigoted ballot measure, Dolan — then the Archbishop of Milwaukee — led the Wisconsin Catholic Conference in exhorting Catholics to vote in favor of excluding gay and lesbian couples from civil marriage.

Yup, that’s right: Timothy Dolan — the same man who hysterically compared allowing same-sex couples the freedom to marry with North Korean-style communist dictatorshipcharacterized marriage equality as “Orwellian social engineering”  and equated it with polygamy, whined that he had been tricked by pro-equality politicians after New York’s marriage equality law passed, and lied about Catholic churches being threatened with lawsuits intended to force them to perform same-sex weddings, all in the name of “protecting” marriage from a non-existent “threat” — sent hush money to suspected child molesters.

Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding