Cardinal Dolan 'hid' $57m from sex abuse victims
Money moved into cemetery trust fund to prevent it being paid as compensation
Cardinal Timothy Dolan: The ‘New York Times’ editorial says – “Newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.” Photograph: Getty Images
A New York Times editorial has described as “shocking” revelations that the Cardinal Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, while archbishop of Milwaukee, moved $57 million off the archdiocesan books into a cemetery trust fund six years ago to prevent the money being paid to victims of clerical child sex abuse.
Cardinal Dolan is also president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The editorial said “newly released court documents make it clear that he sought and received fast approval from the Vatican to transfer the money just as the Wisconsin Supreme Court was about to open the door to damage suits by victims raped and abused as children by Roman Catholic clergy.”
It noted also that “the documents showed how the Vatican slowly took years to allow dioceses to defrock embarrassing priests. Yet the same bureaucracy approved Cardinal Dolan’s $57 million transfer just days after the Wisconsin court allowed victims’ damage suits.”
Files released last Monday by the Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee revealed that in 2007 Cardinal Timothy Dolan requested permission from the Vatican to move almost $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.
As the editorial put it “Cardinal Dolan wrote rather cynically in his 2007 letter to the Vatican . . . ‘I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability’.” The Vatican approved his request within five weeks.
Cardinal Dolan was archbishop there from 2002 to 2009 and has repeatedly denied seeking to protect church funds while in Milwaukee. Last Monday he repeated that these were “old and discredited attacks” and “malarkey”.
The release of the documents was announced last April by the current Archbishop of Milwaukee Jerome Listecki the day before a judicial hearing was to take place into requests by lawyers for abuse victims that the archdiocese be compelled to release them.
As many as 575 men and women have made claims against the archdiocese. It filed for bankruptcy in 2011, saying it was the best way to compensate the victims and resolve the controversy.
US law forbids a debtor from transferring funds in a way that protects one class of creditors over another.