On the Milwaukee Document Release
Statement by Terence McKiernan, President of BishopAccountability.org
July 1, 2013
Thanks to the determination of survivors and Judge Susan V. Kelley’s recent expressed intention to lift her protective order, a significant collection of documents and depositions has been released by Jeffrey Anderson, attorney for many of the survivors, and the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The archive is large and will take time to assess, but it will clearly enhance our understanding of the sexual abuse of children by archdiocesan priests, the fraudulent conduct of the archdiocese, and in particular, the role of now-Cardinal Dolan in managing abuse cases and archdiocesan finances.
The documents provide additional evidence that, contrary to Cardinal Dolan’s repeated denials, he concluded settlements with numerous offending priests, paying them bounties if they would agree to request laicization for sexually abusing children. The archive also contains an important 2007 exchange of letters between Dolan and the Vatican on the eve of the bankruptcy filing, in which Dolan asked permission to shelter $56.9 million, envisioning “an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The revelations about these actions, and Dolan’s denials, raise the question whether he is fit to lead the USCCB and the Archdiocese of New York. Documents also demonstrate that requests for laicization, which had been handled slowly by Cardinal Josef Ratzinger, continued to be processed at a snail’s pace, and that children continued to be endangered thereby, after Ratzinger became Pope Benedict XVI.
The archive released today does not include documents on the many religious order priests accused of abusing children in Milwaukee, and the archive offers only a sample of each file that was released. But the archive deepens our knowledge of the atrocious abuse suffered by children in the archdiocese, and sheds a harsh light on the conduct of Cardinal Dolan, Pope Benedict, and others in positions of responsibility.