We are troubled that Cardinal Dolan, who has acted recklessly and deceitfully in recent clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, is being given such a prominent role at a political convention. In four recent instances, Dolan has acted recklessly, callously or deceptively.
1) Several months ago, Mount St. Michael Academy in the Bronx, the public learned that there was child porn on an assistant principal Lawrence Gordon’s school computer.
But Catholic officials – including Dolan - kept silent for nine months about the child porn, giving the criminal and his supervisors ample time to destroy evidence, fabricate alibis, intimidate witnesses, threaten whistleblowers and thwart law enforcement.
For a solid decade, Dolan and his peers have promised to be “open” about child sex crimes. But for most of last year, he was keeping such crimes secret. There’s just no excuse for Catholic officials keeping parents in the dark about child porn at their kids’ school month after month.
2) Last August, Dolan similarly made no moves to help resolve child sex accusations against Fr. Jaime Duenas.
In a short statement on the archdiocesan website, Dolan didn’t ask Catholics or citizens to do a thing when Duenas was arrested. It is crucial that victims, witnesses and whistleblowers be urged to call police and prosecutors. Dolan is not dumb. He knows appeals like this are often effective. But instead of begging anyone with information or suspicions to call the cops, he said nothing.
Dolan suspended Duenas. Big deal. That’s the absolute bare minimum a Catholic official should do when an alleged child predator is arrested. Any other employer would do the very same thing (and likely more).
Dolan also posted on his blog a mean-spirited statement which attacked the teenaged victim:
3) In February of 2012, Vatican officials announced they are refusing to defrock a serial predator priest, Msgr. Wallace A. Harris. Dolan is quietly going along with this reckless decision.
In 2010, Dolan quietly let Wallace, prominent and powerful priest, quietly resign from his Harlem parish, deliberately and deceptively leaving the impression that he was stepping aside because of alleged health problems. Dolan knew then that Harris had been accused by at least ten men of sexually assaulting them when they were kids.
Still, despite repeated promises to be “transparent” in child sex cases, Dolan only hinted to only one group of parishioners at only one church that the accusations against Harris were credible, letting many of them believe their pastor was innocent but beset with health issues and leaving for that reason.
And now Dolan, who so vigorously pledges to be “open” about clergy sexual abuse, refuses to even disclose where Harris is. And he refuses to question or challenge a Vatican move that leaves children at risk.
Catholic officials often claim to be “monitoring” or “supervising” child molesting clerics. Hundreds of times, however, those promises have been broken and more innocent lives have been devastated. If Harris is truly in a secure, remote and professionally run treatment center, why won’t Dolan clearly say so and tell his flock where it is?
It’s very likely that many of Harris’ former flock believe he’s innocent. Dolan can and should dispel this dangerous myth. But he hasn’t and he won’t.
And it’s likely that Harris could be criminally prosecuted for child sex crimes. Dolan should try to make this happen, by using his massive resources and bully pulpit to beg victims, witnesses and whistleblowers to call police. But he hasn’t.
4) In February of 2012, Dolan’s predecessor made shocking statements about the church’s on-going clergy sex abuse and cover up crisis.
We urged Dolan to publicly rebuke Egan for these shockingly callous comments that will no doubt heap more pain onto millions of victims and Catholics who are still suffering because they have been assaulted by child molesting clerics or betrayed by corrupt church officials. We asked Dolan to clearly denounce Egan. Ignoring callousness or mouthing vague platitudes aren’t enough. At an absolute bare minimum, Catholics need and deserve explicit, public and repeated condemnations of Egan by his brother bishops.
Rather than criticize a colleague, Dolan praised him, saying Egan “had always “responded appropriately and with rigor” to sex-abuse cases.”
Among other things, Egan said:
• I don’t think we did anything wrong.
• I’m very proud of how this thing was handled.
• I believe the sex abuse thing was incredibly good.
• There really wasn’t much . . . hidden.
• I do think it’s time to get off this subject.
• I don’t think I should be upset about that, or you should be, or anybody else.
• I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). And I believe that the cases I had were each handled just exactly as they should have been.
• I did exactly what we were told to do. And as a result, not one of them (the accused priests) did a thing out of line.
• I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news.
• If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is.
(See full interview, in Connecticut Magazine, here: http://www.connecticutmag.com/Connecticut-Magazine/Web-Exclusive-Content/February-2012/Egan-Ten-Years-After/)
Dolan must show – by his actions – that he is what he implies and claims: different from Egan. He could start by posting on their websites the names, whereabouts and work histories of every proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting cleric in their dioceses (like 25 US bishops have done).
Years ago in Milwaukee, Dolan posted names of child molesting clerics on his archdiocesan website. In New York, he refuses to take even this simple, inexpensive step toward protecting kids. He’s going backwards, not forwards, regarding child safety.
Dolan clearly enjoys talking with reporters and has been praised as ‘a good communicator. ‘Yet in child sex cases – this one and others - he says little or nothing and has his public relations professionals say little or nothing that is substantive or helpful.
Dolan has an awful – but carefully hidden - track record on child safety and is not making children safer now. Like most of his peers, in clergy sex abuse and cover up cases, Dolan continues to do the absolute bare minimum.
Finally, two recently-disclosed internal church memos show that a secret $10,000 payment in 2005 from then-Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan to a pedophile priest was not for health insurance, as Dolan claimed. And in a little-noticed 2003 letter from Dolan to then-Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, Dolan promised that he would “set up” a “special fund” for the admitted predator.
The new memos – disclosed in late May by BishopAccountability.org - deal with Franklyn Becker, a priest who reportedly molested children in both Wisconsin and California and who admitted at least some of his crimes.
The two single-spaced typed documents show that
-- a $10,000 payment to Becker was never once linked to health insurance,
-- another Milwaukee church official was working to get him health insurance through Catholic Charities, and
-- to avoid legal liability, the archdiocese would NOT pay for Becker’s health insurance.
In May, a newly disclosed internal Milwaukee church finance committee memo – summarizing a meeting that Dolan attended – showed Dolan lied about the payments – five years ago in 2006 and again last weekend. http://brooklyn.ny1.com/content/the_call/162413/dolan--times-report-on-priest-payoffs-groundless
These new documents are further proof of his deception.
In a separate 2003 letter, after Becker was arrested for child sex crimes, Dolan asks then Cardinal Josef Ratzinger to defrock Becker. “Whatever financial needs (Becker) may have,” Dolan promised Ratzinger, “can be provided for him through a special fund we will set up.” It’s not clear whether such a fund was ever established.
Why do we say these records show Dolan’s deceit?
• Because, at the time of the memos, Becker was in his late 60s, well past the age when he could start collecting Social Security and qualify for Medicare.
• Because, when the memos were written, Becker had already gotten the $10,000, and he still had no health insurance
• Because apparently no conditions are put on the $10,000 payoff
• Because health insurance is not linked in any way with payments in either memo
• Because insurance is brought up by Becker afterwards as a separate point
• Because, in one memo, the pay off is called a “settlement”
• Because nowhere, contrary to Dolan’s claim, is the payment called “charity”
• Because virtually no cleric who leaves, as best we can tell, is given similar payoffs, unless they’ve molested kids
• Because Dolan has had days (indeed, years) to explain or amend his 2006 denial of paying off one pedophile priest but has chosen to keep silent
• And because on Sunday, when he had yet another opportunity to clarify this controversy, he instead went on the attack
In one of the memos, it’s noted that Becker threatened to contact reporters and tell them what information he has, presumably about clergy sexual abuse in the archdiocese. We have no proof, but we suspect that this is the real reason for the pay off – to make sure Becker keeps quiet about other clergy misconduct – sexual, financial, whatever – that he knows about.
For at least a solid decade, Dolan and his brother bishops have repeatedly pledged to be ‘open and transparent’ in pedophile priest cases. It’s a promise often honored in the breach.
We have repeatedly called on Cardinal Dolan to be open about this case and the other alleged ‘handful’ of cases in which he paid proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics to quietly ‘go away.’
We have called on him to stop attacking and deceiving, and start answering and apologizing.
We’ve gotten no answer.
Let’s also remember that recently, the New York Times reported such payouts were not unusual.
So this isn’t some kind of inexplicable, one-time aberration. It’s part of a larger, long-standing, disturbing practice: essentially secretly bribing proven, admitted and credibly accused child molesting clerics to quietly leave and start living and working around unsuspecting employers, neighbors and parents, sometimes to molest again.
Finally, Becker now walks free and lives in Mayville, about 40 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. If Dolan had spent that meeting discussing how to get Becker prosecuted, Becker might now be in jail. If Dolan had spent that $10,000 or $20,000 doing an aggressive outreach campaign, identifying and begging others with information about Becker’s crimes to call police, Becker might be far away from kids now, behind bars. And if America’s Catholic bishops had done likewise, many children would be protected from dozens or perhaps hundreds of dangerous and potentially dangerous current and former sex offender clergy who should be – and might have been – locked up.
(NOTE: The Dolan-Ratzinger letter was posted several years ago on BishopAccountability.org. The two memos by the deacon were just disclosed and posted earlier this year. They are written and signed by Milwaukee Deacon David Zimprich, 414 769 3409, firstname.lastname@example.org, 262 392 2117 home).