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May 31 2012

Just When You Think They Couldn’t Sink Any Lower…

In yesterday’s New York Times: In Milwaukee Post, Cardinal Authorized Paying Abusers.

Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan of New York authorized payments of as much as $20,000 to sexually abusive priests as an incentive for them to agree to dismissal from the priesthood when he was the archbishop of Milwaukee.

Jesus. Fictional. Christ. I think I’m going to be sick.

Questioned at the time about the news that one particularly notorious pedophile cleric had been given a “payoff” to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was “false, preposterous and unjust.”

But a document unearthed during bankruptcy proceedings for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and made public by victims’ advocates reveals that the archdiocese did make such payments to multiple accused priests to encourage them to seek dismissal, thereby allowing the church to remove them from the payroll.

A spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed on Wednesday that payments of as much as $20,000 were made to “a handful” of accused priests “as a motivation” not to contest being defrocked.

Translation: “I can’t believe you would make such a heinous accusation! Paying off priests who raped children, to get them to leave the Church quietly? Outrageous! Insulting! How dare you!” (shown evidence) “Oh, right! Those payoffs!”

“It was a way to provide an incentive to go the voluntary route and make it happen quickly, and ultimately cost less,” said Jerry Topczewski, the spokesman for the archdiocese. “Their cooperation made the process a lot more expeditious.”

Right. Because when children are being raped, the important thing is to hush it up quickly and cheaply.

You know a really good way to get employees who are raping children to leave your organization?

FIRE THEM, AND CALL THE POLICE.

19 comments

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  1. 1
    James Sweet

    The really sad thing is that my initial reaction to this, rather than complete and utter disgust, was, “Well, at least they tried to get them away from the children quickly. Seems like an improvement…” If you set the bar low enough…

    In any case, my opinion of Dolan is already low enough that I’m not sure there’s all that much that can make it worse.

  2. 2
    stonyground

    Am I to take it that RC priests have a job for life? If not, why would it not be easy just to fire them given the level of misconduct involved? If I had a job for life, why would I want to give it up for a payment that is less than a year’s salary? On the other hand, had I been caught out abusing my position so that I could abuse children, I would have thought that a promise to keep shtum about it would be enough to persuade me to walk.

    I find it encouraging that an Archdiocese, whatever that means, of the RCC is having to file for bankrupcy. Interesting that the Vatican could probably bail them out with what amounts to a bit of loose change but choose not to.

  3. 3
    DSimon

    I’m so pissed off about this that, despite my love of obvious movie references, I don’t think I can even do the obligatory Casablanca misquote.

    There’s a word for this kind of thing. It’s corruption. Well, there are other words too, like “hideously immoral” and “detestable” and “beneath basic human dignity”. But I’m sticking with “corruption” for now, because I think it’ll tell us the most about what can be done about the situation.

    We’ve seen this before: when governments lie about war crimes, when corporations lie about environmental disasters, when freakin’ sports teams lie about illegal drug use. We ought to know something about how to react by now.

    At least, I feel as though I ought to know something about how to react right now. But my only response so far, though it’s not of much immediate use, is to be really really pissed off about it.

  4. 4
    Gregory in Seattle

    Religions, their leaders and adherents can always find some way to sink lower. ALWAYS.

    We should never forget this.

  5. 5
    arensb

    I’m morbidly curious to see how The BillDo will rationalize or downplay this one. I’m betting on “Well, what about this one time when a public school teacher had sex with her student and wasn’t fired within the hour? Why the double standard, MSM?!”

  6. 6
    Paul W. (OM)

    Gotta disagree with your title here. I’ve thought for a long time that they’ve been sinking this low, i.e., paying hush money to serial child rapers, or at least not taking any real action against them for fear of publicity.

    It has long been my (mis)understanding—I’m not sure from where—that the Church was loath to defrock/fire abusers because those abusers could raise a public stink about it, drawing public attention to the fact that the Church has been harboring them all along.

    (I though there were known instances where pedophiles actually threatened their superiors with going public if they were punished, and were shielded, but much later got busted anyhow by somebody else, and that prior blackmail came out.)

    It shouldn’t be at all surprising if that happens—it would be surprising if it didn’t happen regularly. Whenever somebody is complicit in a crime, that gives the people they’re complicit with leverage over them—if you expose me now, I’ll expose your complicity in the past.

    That’s a standard principle of spycraft, by the way. If you can get somebody to spy for you just a little, just once, you’ve got them. If they balk at spying a little more, you can threaten to expose them as a spy, and each time they submit, you have a stronger hold.

    Likewise, it’s standard practice in many other criminal enterprises—there’s often something like an initiation in which you must be witnessed to commit a serious crime, so that if you betray the organization, you can be betrayed in return. Newbies have to get their hands dirty before they can be trusted.

    Once the bishops got dirty covering up for pedophiles, they gave pedophiles a lot of power over them.

    Given that, $20K to shut up and go away is dirt cheap. My impression is that many pedophiles have cost them a lot more by refusing to go away, and having to be given light duties and supported for decades.

  7. 7
    Vicki, duly vaccinated tool of the feminist conspiracy

    As I understand it, they are considered to have the magic powers for life—that is, unless defrocked they can say Mass and turn water into the blood of God and such. That doesn’t guarantee them a job with a particular church, and if the hierarchy doesn’t want to call in the cops, but does want to prevent future harm to children, they could in theory assign these guys to spend their days praying in a monastery containing only other pedophile priests.

  8. 8
    busterggi

    I was raised a Catholic – trust me, you ain’t seen yet how low they can sink.

  9. 9
    Renee

    I’ve stopped trying to guess how this whole situation could be made worse. Each time I think, “Well, they couldn’t have done X. That would be melodrama-level evil,” we that the Catholic Church has indeed done X. And doesn’t seem to get why X is do bad.

    Sometimes, it’s not really fun to be right. :(

  10. 10
    Renee

    *so bad.

  11. 11
    ema

    You leave the most reverend, righteous, and rarefied Timothy Cardinal Dolan, (PBUH) alone, you hear!

    Your factual post about Timothy Cardinal Dolan bribing pedophiles, covering-up their crimes, and lying about it is nothing but a puny hippy-Nazi plot aimed at stopping him from doing God’s work. Namely, suing the government to stop it from providing preventive care to women of reproductive age.

  12. 12
    sambarge

    Just a minor correction:

    When an employee is alleged to have committed a crime, unless that crime is against the employer (i.e. theft) the proper action is to suspend them without pay, notify the police (assuming the allegations came to the employer and the police are not aware) and leave their question of their continued employment open until they are convicted or exonerated of the charges.

    That’s not as poetic as what you wrote, Greta, but “due process” and all that.

  13. 13
    peicurmudgeon

    I think that when the RC Church makes pronouncements on ethical actions, the correct response is to laugh them off the podium. The multiverse might contain an ethical version, but it sure ain’t this one.

  14. 14
    Trebuchet

    How appropriate that this came to light during a bankruptcy proceeding. Makes it clear they were morally bankrupt long before the fiscal bankruptcy.

  15. 15
    Stan Brooks

    Thanks as always for a great post, and for your resounding ending recommendation.

    I wish I could say I was surprised, but nothing about that abomninable organization surprises me any longer. Repulses, outrages, infuriates, but surprises, no. How anyone who considers themselves moral can support such an institution I don’t know.

  16. 16
    kagerato

    Considering everything else that has come to light, this doesn’t feel surprising in the least. The Catholic Church should be worried that their name has become synonymous with abuse and political corruption. Though looking at the long tail of history, when has that not been the case?

  17. 17
    hexidecima

    so much for any god smiting anyone doing anything bad. The catholic church is doing such a great job at showing their god doesn’t exist at all.

  18. 18
    carpenterman

    You know, given that the children these priests have abused have parents, and cousins, and older siblings, to say nothing of the fact that these kids grow to be adults themselves… and given what happens when these priests are caught(i.e. nothing, or *this*)… I’m genuinely surprised that more of these priests aren’t being murdered.
    Just saying.

  19. 19
    Jurjen S.

    What I’m failing to understand is why the ordained hierarchy of the entire Roman Catholic Church in the United States isn’t under investigation and declared a criminal organization under the RICO Act, and specifically why Cardinal Dolan isn’t already in custody and a wide range of charges, starting with obstruction of justice and perjury (IIRC, he lied to a grand jury about this). If there’s one good thing to come out of the erosion of civil liberties we’ve suffered over the past 40-odd years of the “wars on (some) drugs and terrorism,” it should surely be that the hammer can most decisively be dropped on an organization that aided and abetted child rapists!

  1. 20
    All the linkspam in the world

    [...] Greta Christina writes about the Catholic Church paying out priests in order to get them to agree to dismissal, instead of approaching the authorities or supporting the victims in, “Just When You Think They Couldn’t Sink Any Lower…“. [...]

  2. 21
    Forgetting History

    [...] when you have an organisation that covers up the abuse of children (and the forgotten adults) by paying off priests, moving them between churches, hushing up the abuse, and treating the victims as if it were their [...]

  3. 22
    Link Love (16/06/2012) « Becky's Kaleidoscope

    [...] USA: Muslim woman told to ‘remove face covering or get out’ of New Jersey shopping mall – Mail Online & “Translation: “I can’t believe you would make such a heinous accusation! Paying off priests who raped children, to get them to leave the Church quietly? Outrageous! Insulting! How dare you!” (shown evidence) “Oh, right! Those payoffs!”” Just When You Think They Couldn’t Sink Any Lower… – Greta Christina’s Blog [...]

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