Posts Tagged ‘sex abuse crisis’

Release of Deposition by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee

Monday, July 1st, 2013

Today the Archdiocese of Milwaukee released documents related to how they responded to the evil of the sexual abuse of minors by priests.  One of the documents they released was my deposition from this past February that was part of their on-going bankruptcy proceeding.  I thought you might like to see the statement I issued today, as well as read the full deposition.

“I welcome today’s voluntary release of documents by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that contain information and details related to sexual abuse by clergy, and how the Archdiocese of Milwaukee responded to it.  I am especially grateful that my deposition of February 2013, given as part of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy proceedings, is one of the documents being released.

Responding to victim-survivors, taking action against priest-abusers, and working to implement policies to protect children, were some of the most difficult, challenging, and moving events of the 6 ½ years that I served as Archbishop of Milwaukee.  One of the principles that guided me during that time was the need for transparency and openness, which is why I not only welcomed the deposition as a chance to go on-the-record with how we responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis during my years in Milwaukee, but also encouraged that it be released.

Unfortunately, we have already seen how the release of these documents will cause some to raise old and discredited attacks – like priest-abusers having been “paid” to apply for laicization, (like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on) or  that establishing a perpetual care fund from money belonging to cemeteries and designated for that purpose – as required by state law and mandated by the archdiocesan finance council – was an attempt to shield it from the bankruptcy proceedings.  While certain groups can be counted-upon to take certain statements or events out of context, the documents released show plainly that the bishops have been faithful to the promises made over a decade ago: permanent removal from ministry of any priest who abused a minor; complete cooperation with law enforcement officials; and, strict child-safety requirements.

The sexual abuse of minors is a crime and it is a sin.  The Church must remain rigorous in our response when an allegation of abuse is received, and ever-vigilant in maintaining our safeguards to do all that we can to see that children are protected.  It is my hope that the release of these documents will also help to show how the Catholic Church in the United States has become a leader in dealing with the society-wide scourge of sexual abuse, and help other groups and organizations who are also seeking combat this evil.”

Fair Coverage

Monday, February 25th, 2013

My gratitude goes out to Kathryn Jean Lopez at National Review for her piece regarding my time in Milwaukee:

This week, before his departure for Rome for the last day of the pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI and the subsequent conclave, New York’s Timothy Cardinal Dolan spoke under oath about his previous assignment in Milwaukee…

Cardinal Dolan, who began meeting with victims of abuse immediately after his appointment to Milwaukee, doesn’t deserve to be lumped in with anyone who has made excuses for sins and crimes of the past. And yet the narrative this week insinuates that the current president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is “dogged” by questions about his concern for children, suggesting implication in hundreds of cases, which is simply not so.

You can read more here.

Milwaukee Update

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Just to give you a head’s up…

Over the upcoming weeks, you might hear frequent accusations about my seven years as Archbishop of Milwaukee by tort attorney Jeffrey Anderson, who is representing claimants in the current bankruptcy proceedings in that wonderful archdiocese.

Those who are familiar with Anderson’s usual tactics tell me we can figure to hear repeated charges about my “irresponsibility.”  It seems he believes that it helps his case if my name is muddied, no matter how unjustly.

You may have already seen two of his preposterous charges have already made headlines here and in Milwaukee.

One claims I “hid” $130 million of archdiocesan assets.  As I commented when I heard of this incredible slur, I did no such thing.  Yes, I returned – at the insistence of our auditors and lay finance council — $70 million of parish savings (not archdiocesan money) back to the people to whom it belonged.  And, yes, I made sure the $60 million of “perpetual care funds” for our Catholic cemeteries was, as demanded by state law, secure.

Two, he finds fault with me for asking the Vatican to laicize an abusive priest.  Seems I acted “too slowly” – even though the priest had already been removed from ministry long before, and was not allowed to act as a priest – and that I was only worried about “scandal” – even though the perpetrator’s victims had told me they were, in fact, “scandalized” that the priest had not been laicized.  He includes the now-obligatory punch to the then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, even though the future pope “defrocked” the abuser at my request.  Can’t win!

Keep in mind that some of those now lined-up against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee have stated in the past that they would “sue the s—“ out of the archdiocese, and would not stop until an “out of business” sign was posted in front of every parish, school, and church charitable center.

Given such motives, don’t be surprised by further frequent attacks on me.  Although, sadly, some media here and in Milwaukee seem to give these groundless attacks immediate publicity, I do not intend to spend a lot of time responding to them.

I’d be happy to provide the truth to the respected bankruptcy judge, if so asked.

Sorry to bother you with all of this, but I want to keep you posted.

Thanks.  A blessed Lent!

Groundless Gossip

Monday, February 14th, 2011

I owe it to all of you — both the Catholic and wider community — to be very clear about the ridiculous and groundless gossip spread about me by a tort lawyer named Jeff Anderson.

You may have heard this man claim that, when I was Archbishop of Milwaukee, I “hid’ $130 million of archdiocesan funds so victims of clergy sexual abuse could not sue for it.

Malarkey! The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has an excellent record of fiscal integrity and transparency.  I worked hard at that, and my successor, Archbishop Listecki, continues to do so.  (By the way, you might also be interested to know that during my years as Archbishop of Milwaukee, and with the generous service of many dedicated people, we established a mediation process that reached settlements with almost 200 victim survivors; that mediation process has been praised by the victim survivors who have participated in the process.)

In my seven years there, the meager resources of the archdiocese were under the vigilance of a sound and respected finance council, composed of prominent and respected business leaders from the financial community; annually we were audited; and each year there was complete, published financial disclosure.  You can find the audited financial statements here.  To claim that, given this rigorous supervision, an archbishop could have “hidden” $130 million, is beyond ridiculous.

I do want you to know that, when I arrived as archbishop, the financials showed that parishes had $70 million of their peoples’ money on deposit with the archdiocese.  This was not archdiocesan money at all, but belonged to parishes.  That’s why the finance council, and our outside professional auditors, advised me that it was inappropriate for the archdiocese to hold money for parishes, and that it should be returned to the parishes to which it belonged anyway.  This was done, and publicly reported in the annual audit.

So much for “hidden funds.”  Far from inappropriate, this decision was virtuous, open, and in accord with the clear directives of the professionals on our finance council and outside auditors.

The archdiocese of Milwaukee has issued an enlightening statement speculating that this lawyer’s reckless charges also included “hiding” the “cemetery fund,” which, of course, by state law, is scrupulously protected, and cannot be touched or transferred by anybody.

So, these silly charges are baloney.  Unfortunately, this man got the attention he wanted and has come to expect from the news, tarnishing the good name of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, and of me.  Some of our priests reported that people at Sunday Mass asked them “Why did Archbishop Dolan hide those funds?”

Lord knows I’ve made mistakes, but “hiding” $130 million is hardly one of them!

P.S. The Catholic League issued a statement on this matter today.  You can read it here.

Insights from John Allen Jr.

Tuesday, December 7th, 2010

Although this appeared in National Catholic Reporter several weeks ago, I thought you might want to read one of the most insightful pieces that I have come across in a while. John Allen Jr. gives an excellent overview of the press coverage of the 2010 sexual abuse crisis.

Here is an excerpt:

Under the best of circumstances, the Vatican and the secular media struggle to understand each other, and the first half of 2010 was hardly the best of times. As a new wave of the sexual abuse crisis swept across Europe and raised critical questions about Pope Benedict XVI, Vatican officials accused the press of bias, while news reports and editorial pages blasted the Vatican for dishonesty and denial.

Now that the dust has begun to settle, thoughtful figures on both sides realize the need to take a dispassionate look back. Many in the news business want to know if they got the story right, and at least some in Rome — not to mention frustrated Catholics elsewhere — wonder if the Vatican’s crisis management strategy, such as it was, backfired.

You can read the whole post here.

Response from William A. Donohue, Ph.D

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

I came across this fine article written by William A. Donohue, Ph.D. of the Catholic League. Mr. Donohue responds to a CNN documentary on the Pope recently aired.

Here’s an excerpt:

“We learn from CNN host Gary Tuchman that “For decades, before he became pope, Joseph Ratzinger was a high-ranking Vatican official who, more than anyone else beside Pope John Paul, could have taken decisive action to stem the sexual abuse crisis.” Similarly, author David Gibson says the pope “always took the stalling tactic.”

It is simply not true that Ratzinger was in charge of this issue “for decades.” In fact, he wasn’t given the authority to police the sexual abuse problem until 2001. What is truly astonishing is that Tuchman concedes as much later in the program. After he notes that “By 2001, the sexual abuse crisis was beginning to engulf the Catholic Church,” he says, “The pope gave Cardinal Ratzinger and the CDF (Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith) the power to cut through the bureaucracy and handle all sexual abuse cases directly.”

In other words, Tuchman was incorrect the first time when he said that “for decades” Ratzinger “could have taken decisive action.” He couldn’t have been in charge “for decades” if he wasn’t given police powers until 2001 (he became pope in 2005).

Nowhere in the program is there any evidence that the pope was guilty of obstruction of justice. This is a serious charge—the most serious made in the course of the documentary. Yet to throw this out, without ever producing evidence to substantiate it, is malicious. It won’t cut it to say that he was “perhaps” guilty of obstruction. CNN intentionally planted this seed and never explicitly addressed the subject of obstruction of justice again.”

You can read the rest of the article here.

Ken Woodward and Church of the ‘Times’

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

For more than a week, many of my friends have been encouraging me to read an article by Ken Woodward that appeared in the most recent Commonweal magazine.  I didn’t get to read it until today, but I must admit that what I had heard is true:  the article is excellent.

As you may know, Mr. Woodward was the religion editor at Newsweek magazine for many years.  His piece, entitled Church of the ‘Times’ examines not only how the paper has covered the sexual abuse crisis confronting the Catholic Church, but also what Mr. Woodward calls the Times’s worldview.  Here’s Mr. Woodward:

No question, the Times’s worldview is secularist and secularizing, and as such it rivals the Catholic worldview. But that is not unusual with newspapers. What makes the Times unique—and what any Catholic bishop ought to understand—is that it is not just the nation’s self-appointed newspaper of record. It is, to paraphrase Chesterton, an institution with the soul of a church. And the church it most resembles in size, organization, internal culture, and international reach is the Roman Catholic Church….

…The Times, of course, does not claim to speak infallibly in its judgments on current events. (Neither does the pope.) But to the truly orthodox believers in the Times, its editorials carry the burden of liberal holy writ. As the paper’s first and most acute public editor, Daniel Okrent, once put it, the editorial page is “so thoroughly saturated in liberal theology that when it occasionally strays from that point of view the shocked yelps from the left overwhelm even the ceaseless rumble of disapproval from the right.” Okrent’s now famous column was published in 2004 under the headline “Is the New York Times a Liberal Newspaper?” and I will cite Okrent more than once because he, too, reached repeatedly for religious metaphors to describe the ambient culture of the paper.

If you haven’t already done so, I encourage you to take the advice of my friends and read the entire Church of the ‘Times’ for yourself.