The Media Report.com, which takes up cudgels against what it considers media attacks on the Catholic Church, today assailed the NYT's Laurie Goodstein for a story criticizing the country's leading hierarch for, as they see it, just doing his darnedest to remove sex offenders from the priesthood asap.
In her latest Catholic Church-obsessed piece, Goodstein takes issue with the fact that Cardinal Timothy Dolan, when he was the Archbishop of Milwaukee a while back, approved a number of $20,000 settlements to rid the Church of abusive priests in a more time-efficient and expeditious manner – without long, drawn-out canonical or civil proceedings.
The problem the story poses for Dolan is not that he did such a thing, however, but that he didn't tell the truth about it back in the day.
The object of the exercise was to induce the sex offenders not to contest being defrocked--"laicized"--and thereby avoid a lengthy legal process in Rome. To that end, according to newly disclosed minutes of a March 2003 meeting of the Milwaukee archdiocese's finance committee, Dolan and his councilors discussed a proposal to “offer $20,000 for laicization ($10,000 at the start and $10,000 at the completion the process).”
But in September 2006, when Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Tom Heinen asked about a $10,000 pay-out to serial abuser Franklyn Becker, Dolan issued a statement vigorously denying that there had been anything like a quid pro quo.
For anyone to assert that this money was a "payoff" or occurred in exchange for Becker agreeing to leave the priesthood is completely false, preposterous and unjust.
What this was, instead, was an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching, that allowed a person to obtain health insurance coverage he simply could not afford on his own. If people want to criticize me for that charity, so be it.
The reason the health coverage was needed, Dolan wrote, was that Becker was not yet eligible for Medicare. But as Heinen's September 8 story noted, Becker was 69 in 2006, and would have crossed the age-65 Medicare eligibility threshold with room to spare when he received the archdiocese's money in 2004.
Jerry Topczewski, spokesman for the Milwaukee archdiocese, acknowledged to Goodstein what the real deal was: “It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less.” So Dolan fibbed. The question is, will His Voluble Rotundity own up to it?