Archdiocese gave $10,000 to priest
Defrocked cleric tied to multimillion-dollar sex abuse settlement

By Tom Heinen
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
September 8, 2006

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee gave $10,000 to former priest Franklyn Becker, whose actions were a factor in the archdiocese's multimillion-dollar settlement of sexual abuse lawsuits in California last week, to help pay his health insurance premiums until he became eligible for Medicare.

Peter Isely, a victims' advocate who had conversations with Becker about the money and other matters, said Thursday that the money was a payoff in exchange for Becker not contesting his laicization.

Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan issued a strong statement, writing, "For anyone to assert that this money was a 'payoff' or occurred in exchange for Becker agreeing to leave the priesthood is completely false, preposterous and unjust.

"What this was, instead, was an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching, that allowed a person to obtain health insurance coverage he simply could not afford on his own. If people want to criticize me for that charity, so be it. Since coming to the (archdiocese) in 2002, I have made my commitment to working with victims-survivors very clear in both word and action, and will continue to do so to ensure the healing occurs, the Church is strengthened, and trust is restored."

Isely said the payment raised questions of stewardship and accountability.

"The issue is that a payment was made to a sex offender with no strings attached to it," Isely said. "What fund did it come from? What other payments have been made for priests and clergy who have abused?"

Money from general fund

Archdiocesan spokeswoman Kathleen Hohl said that none of the money came from the annual Catholic Stewardship Appeal. It came from the general operating fund, which gets money from parish assessments and other sources.

Hohl added that Becker's laicization was not voluntary.

Dolan wrote that he asked the late Pope John Paul II to remove Becker from the priesthood in 2004. The Pope granted that request in October 2004.

Shortly after that, Becker's "canonical representative" asked for help with Becker's health insurance because he did not yet qualify for Medicare, Dolan wrote. The archdiocese authorized $10,000, making it clear the church had no obligation to do so, Dolan added.

Becker, 69, could not be reached for comment late Thursday.

One of the 10 settled cases in California involved a victim who said Becker had molested him. Jeff Anderson, that man's attorney, said the man got a $2 million settlement.

On Thursday, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests released a sworn-statement and videotaped interview Becker made with Anderson on Aug. 8.

They go into Becker's frequent reassignments over decades and include statements about his sexual attraction to male youths, rumors and complaints about him, and his assertion that the church placed no restrictions on his ministry with youth until the 1990s.

The group has posted the video and transcripts on its Web site at


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