New memos undermine Dolan's credibility even more

We’re outside St. Patrick's Cathedral. in New York City today for three reasons. First, to expose – again – deceit by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Second, to urge Dolan – again – to stop attacking and deceiving and start answering and apologizing. And third, to urge other Catholic figures to prod Dolan to be forthcoming about every single payout and “special fund” he made to or set up for child molesting clerics. 

This isn’t about admitted serial predator priests getting health care from Cardinal Dolan. It’s about Catholics and citizens getting openness and honesty from Cardinal Dolan. Dolan and other church officials admit they’ve followed through on their pledges to pedophile priests. They have broken, however, their often-repeated promises of “transparency” to the rest of us.

Two newly-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 yesterday by - 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.

Last week, 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.

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.

So today, we call on Cardinal Dolan.– again – 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 call on him to stop attacking and deceiving, and start answering and apologizing.

And we call on other Catholic figures to prod Dolan to be forthcoming about every single payout he made to child molesting clerics and “special fund” he set up for child molesting clerics.

Let’s also remember that last Wednesday, 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 The two memos by the deacon were just disclosed yesterday and posted last night. They are written and signed by Milwaukee Deacon David Zimprich, 414 769 3409,, 262 392 2117 home).

First memo
Second memo
Dolan-Ratzinger letter

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  • j s
    commented 2013-06-22 20:37:22 -0500
    and if the police had done the investigating, maybe the pedophile would have been locked up. is dolan a cop?
  • Jeannie Guzman
    commented 2012-06-06 20:57:50 -0500
    The source of Dolan’s “special funds,” comes out of the hard earned tythes and offerings of the members of the Archdiocese, and I believe that many of them would be offended to know that their hard-earned money went to Pedophile Priests under ANY guise, whether it be a pay-off or money for an apartment (possibly next to a school or playground), health insurance, life insurance, whatever! I wonder what the responses are from members of Dolan’s past and current Archdioceses?
  • June Annette
    commented 2012-06-05 14:07:34 -0500
    John Walsh of ’America’s Most Wanted’ could devote an entire new series to the priests who have been defrocked, but not prosecuted, for the unspeakable crime of child molestation, and remain at large. Like this character:
    Article: ‘Priest busted for sex abuse ten years ago now working for the TSA at Philly airport’

    Excerpt: “A Catholic priest removed from the ministry ten years ago for sexually abusing young girls has found another job — with the TSA.
    Thomas Harkins, once a priest at churches throughout South Jersey, now works as a TSA supervisor at the Philadelphia International Airport, CBS Philly reports. Because the sexual abuse cases were so old, and the lawsuits were settled with the accusers, criminal charges were never filed against Harkins, which is why nothing registered when the TSA ran a background check, according to the station.”(CBS Philly)
    Source New York Daily News / May 26, 2012

    Yet another stunning disclosure that the so-called “princes of the church” felt the lowly laity did not need to know and one more compelling reason to opt out of the unholy Roman Catholic “church”!"

    Hush money to make predator priests go away instead of turning them over to the appropriate civil authorities is in keeping with those who presume they are “above the law”! Let’s call it what it is . . damage limitation and failure in their civic duty to report a criminal act, which translates into obstruction of justice.
    Such disclosures neither inspire trust nor instill confidence in their followers, and will insure that the massive exodus from their pews continues unabated.
    The preservation of the RC’s imagined good image is once more in view and continues to this day to be their prime concern.

    The coverage the media has provided in these matters is a much needed public service and has proven to be an invaluable resource to both Catholic and non-Catholic alike by which the viability, legitimacy and credibility of the Roman Catholic “church” as a religious institution can be judged.

    Roman Catholics must ask themselves the question posed by the Old Testament prophet Amos: “Can two walk together, except they be agreed?” (Amos 3:3) Many former Catholics like myself are unable to reconcile conduct, practices and activities that are unarguably inconsistent with those who lay claim to be the one true church of Jesus Christ. These are not the works of those guided by the Holy Spirit. As Christ said . . . “Ye shall know them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:16)

    Many former Catholics like myself .who have given these matters thoughtful and prayerful consideration have renounced the religion of Rome in order to wholeheartedly embrace the religion of Christ without contradiction. It is my fervent hope and prayer that many more will both hear and heed the command of the Lord Jesus Christ as it is found in Rev. 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”

    JuneAnnette, a Roman Catholic by tradition . . made a Christian by God’s grace

    “But by the grace of God, I am what I am.” (1 Cor.15:10)
  • Mary Caplan
    published this page in Media Statements 2012-06-05 12:38:25 -0500

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