New Memos Undermine Dolan's Credibility Even More

By Mary Caplan
June 4, 2012

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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.


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).








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