Archbishop Dolan's Abysmal
Track Record on Clergy Sex Abuse and Cover up
By Peter Isely
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
February 18, 2009
-- NB: Dolan "Clergy Abuse Fact
Sheet", with links, posted below statement --
Some speculate that Milwaukee archbishop Timothy Dolan may soon be named
head of the New York archdiocese. Regardless of whether that happens or
not, some believe he'll someday be elevated to a larger archdiocese. Catholics
and citizens deserve to know his track record on the most pressing issue
the church faces.
Sadly the Vatican has consistently shown that a bishop's mismanagement
of clergy sex crimes against children has little or no bearing on career
When Dolan came to Milwaukee in 2002 from St. Louis he was widely praised
as an antidote to Catholicism's penchant for dour and humorless prelates,
a wizard of media relations, the embodiment of a new, ascendant and conquering
But like so many other bishops who mismanage the abuse issue but still
manage to get promoted, Dolan left St. Louis having failed to properly
supervise sex offenders, remove them all from ministry, and fully notify
When Dolan got to Milwaukee, he boldly proclaimed that "it is sledgehammer
obvious that things cannot go on with business as usual" in handling
clergy sex abuse cases. Yet, for six years it has been pretty much exactly
that in Milwaukee, just like in St. Louis.
Dolan did not forward to Wisconsin police direct admissions of guilt from
clergy child rapists, even from clergy who were subsequently criminally
charged and convicted. He continues to leave known clerical offenders
working or presenting themselves as clergy in good standing in the Milwaukee
archdiocese, a direct violation of the Dallas Charter. And for six years,
secure at their chancery posts are virtually every single member of the
senior management who plotted and executed the cover up of child sex abuse
under Dolan's disgraced predecessor, Rembert Weakland.
Why, for instance, does Dolan still publically praise without reprimand
long term20Milwaukee auxiliary bishop, Richard Sklba? Sklba, according
to sworn testimony this June by Weakland, was the chief architect of two
decades of cover up for priest pedophiles. Weakland, in fact, called Sklba
his "go to guy' on "all abuse cases."
Also, according to Weakland, Dolan has not once talked with him about
the 67 known clerical sex offenders in the Milwaukee archdiocese reported
to church authorities by at least 480 victims. How can Dolan arrive in
New York and claim he has effectively addressed clergy sex crimes in Milwaukee
without once asking Weakland about abusive priests? Will Dolan even dare
to have such a conversation with Cardinal Eagan for fear of what he might
As Dolan exits, the clergy sex abuse cover up crisis is not behind the
Milwaukee church, but looms in front of it. Civil trials against the archdiocese
are expected this summer in Milwaukee County for sex abuse fraud.
Victims greeted Dolan when he came to Milwaukee with great hope. He was
replacing, after all, a bishop who resigned because he took a half a million
dollars in church contributions for a hush money payoff to a seminarian
who said he was "date raped" by him. The bar in New York may
not be quite as low as it was in Milwaukee, but after years of stagnancy
and pastoral malaise under Cardinal Eagan, Dolan is likely to make a very
good first impression.
But on matters of child protection Dolan is the Vatican's standard "business
as usual" fare.
The vetting of bishops remains, unfortunately, a highly secretive and
non-democratic process. How else could Pope Benedict, as we recently learned,
spend years in high level negotiations and talks only to end up reinstating
a bishop who publically denies the Holocaust?
As the rape of children by so many priests in the United States has conclusively
demonstrates -- the number of predators over the past several decades
is now within the range of six thousand -- something is wrong with the
governing of the church, no matter who the governing bishop happens to
Dolan will bring some highly praised qualities to New York: political
savvy, fundraising acumen, theological orthodoxy, and populist pastoral
None of these qualities, however, guarantees a bishop will fervently embrace
his most basic duty of protecting God's children. For that, something
else is needed, something on the order of true spiritual heroism. Maybe
this is simply too much to ask of Dolan, or any other American bishop
for that matter. But can parents of the New York archdiocese afford not
to ask, indeed, demand it of Dolan?
The problem, ultimately, is not any one cardinal or bishop—Dolan
or Weakland, Eagan or Sklba, Mahony or Law -- but a system that moves
around predator sheltering bishops as freely as it moves around its predators.
SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the nation's
oldest and largest self-help organization of clergy sexual abuse survivors,
founded in 1987 with over 8,000 members in 63 chapters (SNAPnetwork.org).
Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee), 414.429.7259
David Clohessy, SNAP National Director (St. Louis), 314.566.9790
Barbara Dorris, SNAP National Outreach Director, 314.503.0003
Timothy Dolan “Clergy Abuse Fact Sheet”
Dolan record as Archbishop
of Milwaukee, 2002-2009
Note: There are 67 clergy offenders from the Milwaukee archdiocese
substantiated child sex assault reports, including 2 deacons and 20 religious
In August of 2002, a bishop for less than a year in St. Louis, Dolan
was appointed archbishop of Milwaukee, to replace the disgraced Rembert
Weakland. Weakland had just been discovered to have paid a former Marquette
University seminarian a half a million dollars in hush money for a sexual
abuse allegation that Weakland characterized as a sexual relationship.
While in Milwaukee –
- Dolan has failed to report direct admissions by clergy sex offenders
concerning prosecutable cases of child rape. In February of last year,
Sr. Norma Gianni was convicted of child sex assault in Milwaukee County
after victims went to police. Yet archdiocesan officials, under the
direction of auxiliary Bishop Richard Sklba, had obtained a previous
confession [see article].
- In March, Fr. Bruce McArthur was sentenced for child sex abuse in
Juneau County although McArthur had also admitted to the archdiocese
that he had assaulted children in several parishes in Milwaukee and
a hospital chaplain West Bend [see article].
- Dolan is leaving priests or clergy in ministry or publically presenting
themselves as priests in the Milwaukee archdiocese, in violation of
the 2002 U.S. Bishops Charter to Protect Young Children, including Fr.
Joseph Mika, who has admitted to child sex assault while a pastor in
the Green Bay diocese and is now living with Dolan’s permission
in Milwaukee. Victims groups in Milwaukee are claiming there are more
such clergy still working under Dolan [see article].
- Dolan secretly paid off one of Milwaukee’s most notorious priest
child molesters, Fr. Franklyn Becker, in exchange for the priest to
sign papers to leave the priesthood. Dolan sent a delegate to Becker
to then assure him that the archdiocese would not publicize why he had
left the priesthood [see article].
- In a June deposition released in November, former Milwaukee archbishop
Rembert Weakland revealed what had long been suspected that Dolan’s
number two man, Bishop Richard Sklba was his “go to man”
in all sex abuse cases and covering up child sex crimes from authorities
and parishioners [see article
and the relevant page from the Weakland
- Dolan has refused to remove Sklba from his post, saying that he has
“complete confidence” in Sklba [see article].
- Dolan, according to Weakland, has never once talked with him about
the scores of abusive priests in the archdiocese nor has Dolan read
or viewed Weakland’s deposition admitting to concealing and transferring
sex offenders to “every parish” in the Milwaukee archdiocese
and the relevant page from the Weakland
- In September, Dolan told archdiocesan leaders that due to fraud cases
filed against abusive priests and their bishops the archdiocese is going
to face a “big financial hit” that is likely, according
to archdiocesan officials, to lead to bankruptcy [see article].
- Dolan has repeatedly lobbied against sexual abuse reforms in Madison,
including a bill that would allow childhood victims of sexual abuse
by non-blood relatives to bring cases to Wisconsin civil courts [for
example, see article].
- Last year, Dolan permitted a letter to be published in the Catholic
newspaper describing clergy child sex abuse victims as “prostitutes”
- Weekly church attendance under Dolan in the Milwaukee archdiocese
has dropped every single year and the rate of decrease is increasing
at an alarming rate [see press
release with links].
Other informative documents from Milwaukee about the clergy abuse crisis
and cover up --
Dolan’s record as Auxiliary Bishop of Saint Louis, 2001-2002
Before his appointment to Milwaukee, Dolan was briefly auxiliary bishop
of St. Louis, where he was put in charge of the abuse response for the
archdiocese by Archbishop Justin Rigali, who was subsequently promoted
to cardinal archbishop of Philadelphia.
While in St. Louis --
- Dolan left at least three priests in ministry who were charged in
civil court with child sex assault, including one, Fr. Thomas Graham
who was later convicted by a jury [see article].
- May have failed to supervise Fr. Gary Wolken, a priest sex offender
living with Dolan at Our Lady of Sorrows rectory in St. Louis. Wolken
was arrested in 2002 for raping and sodomizing a boy from age 7 to 10.
Wolken had already been under suspension for child sex abuse [see article].
- Wrote a letter to the judge at Wolken’s sentencing to keep Wolken
from prison, praising Wolken. Wolken was sentenced to 15 years Dolan
refuses to release the letter [see article].
- Besides Wolken, Dolan was also living at Our Lady of Sorrows with
another priest sex offender, Fr. Michael Campbell. Campbell was removed
from ministry for substantiated abuse reports in 2002. Dolan praised
Campbell to parishioners saying he trusts him so much he would go to
him for confession [see article].
- After being suspended in March 2002, Dolan's friend Campbell showed
up just weeks later, in April, on the altar of a nearby parish (during
Holy Week, no less) to the consternation of many parishioners [see article].
- Dolan failed to meet with abuse victims or reply to direct abuse reports