Complying with a court order, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday released thousands of pages of documents and depositions that detail the Vatican's role and the role of local churches in priest sex abuse cases.
The Survivors Network for Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) was demanding the public release of these documents.
Read all of the documents at: http://www.andersonadvocates.com/Archdiocese-of-Milwaukee-Documents.aspx
VATICAN APPROVED $57M TRANSFER
The Archdiocese of Milwaukee filed for bankruptcy in 2011 to deal with sex abuse claims. Documents in the bankruptcy case show that in 2007 the Vatican gave then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan permission to move $57 million into a trust for "improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability."
The Vatican responded less than a month later, granting permission.
"A letter released today proves that Cardinal Timothy Dolan deliberately and deceptively shifted millions of dollars into a fund so it would be protected from clergy sex abuse lawsuits and settlements," SNAP president Barbara Blaine said in a statement. "Vatican officials move at a glacial pace, if at all, to protect kids from predator priests. But they move with lightning speed to protect church officials from criticism and church money from victims."
Attorneys for the sex abuse victims have accused Dolan of concealing funds during bankruptcy proceedings. The archdiocese has denied those allegations.
Minutes from a "Financial Council" meeting indicate plans to shelter funds began as early as 2003, with one entry saying, "Currently, we are working on setting up a Trust Fund to shelter the Parish Deposit Fund."
Dolan is now a cardinal in New York and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
DOLAN PAID, URGED REMOVAL OF PRIESTS
Letters from then-Archbishop Dolan show he asked priests who were known offenders to be removed, stating that delays create the potential for scandal. In one case, approval from the Vatican took more than two years.
"The delays in contrast to the moving of money -- that took a little over a month to get approval on -- to the delays on removal of the priests from the priesthood are extraordinarily long," said attorney Jeff Anderson, who has spent decades filing suits against the Catholic Church. "In other words, everybody is dragging their feet because it's to their advantage."
The letters also outline payments to priests who voluntarily resigned.
"Namely, $10,000 when the petition is submitted and $10,000 when a definitive response is received," Anderson explained.
Dolan sent multiple letters to the Vatican requesting priests be removed, including one priest who admitted sexual abuse under a court order for no unsupervised contact.
DOLAN RESPONDS ONLINE
Dolan responded on his blog on Monday, saying he applauds the document release in the name of transparency. He claims the release illustrates the church's commitment to removing priests who have abused parishioners and that the cemetery trust simply protected money that was already designated for maintenance.
Anderson contends the documents show a commitment to avoiding scandal and preserving the reputation of the church without mentioning how to protect children.
WHAT'S IN THE DOCUMENTS
Anderson held a 1 p.m. news conference, appearing with roughly 5,000 pages of the 40,000 released. He described them as "revealing and revolting secrets long kept from the unwary," including:
- Details of the Vatican's role in priest abuse cases
- Cardinal Dolan's role in the events leading up to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee's bankruptcy filing
- The experience of gaining sworn testimony in depositions of former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Bishop Richard Sklba, and current New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan and revelations disclosed in their depositions.
The victims are calling for the release of all Catholic Church child sex abuser files in the United States, including documents and files in Minnesota dioceses related to religious order clerics, employees and permanent deacons.
They are demanding Minnesota bishops release the personnel files and names of all known offenders to prevent any further harming of children.