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Dolan’s role in Milwaukee church abuse cases detailed

The documents show decisions by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.
The documents show decisions by Cardinal Timothy Dolan.

MILWAUKEE — As the national clergy sex abuse scandal widened after revelations in Boston in 2002, New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan faced increasing pressure as the archbishop in Milwaukee to cut costs by defrocking problem priests and pushback from his staff when he hesitated, according to newly released records.

Clergy sex abuse victims have harshly criticized Dolan for payments made to at least seven abusive priests who were forced out of the church; they view the money as bonuses given to criminals. The archdiocese has said it long provided money to men leaving the priesthood as a means of helping them transition into new lives; most were not accused of wrongdoing.

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While victims have faulted Dolan for the payments, documents released July 1 show that others in the archdiocese also were pushing to get rid of the priests as a way to ensure that money was focused on caring for victims and church operations. Dolan and others probably saw the payments as a cost-effective way to speed up the priests’ departure.

The data was made public as part of a deal between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud.

Under Dolan, the archdiocese offered deals in 2003 to six priests accused of sexual abuse to get them to voluntarily leave the priesthood.

Associated Press