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Pedophiles Paid to Leave Quietly

Laurie Goodstein at the New York Times reported yesterday on then-Archbishop of Milwaukee Timothy Dolan approving payments of up to $20,000 to sex-abuser priests as an incentive for them to accept laicization.When asked about such payments at the time, Dolan flatly denied the charge.

Cardinal Dolan, then the archbishop, responded that such an inference was false, preposterous and unjust.

Ahem. Well, in the bankruptcy proceedings, documents show that multiple such payments were made. (Andrew Sullivan's report is headed: "Cardinal Dolan, Brazen Liar?" But dissembling hierarchs is not my topic here.)Now it is true that priests don't draw much of a salary, though it should also be noted that, unlike their lay colleagues in ministry, they also get their education free, housing free, and receive benefits, including retirement. They do not take a vow of poverty (unlike religious,) so can become wealthy if they have a side gig, though most do not. I would be sympathetic to leaving retirement benefits in place, since it's very hard to establish oneself mid-life (or later,) but this is a substantial cash bonus just for leaving.I do not know if diocesan priests who leave to marry receive or received similar payments, or if this is a special bonus to get pedophiles to go without a fight. The Times article says payouts to dismissed priests are not uncommon. But pedophiles??Here again--where's the outrage? What would it take for a bishop to say to a priest: "This is outrageous, evil, deeply harmful behavior that will not be tolerated. Get out, and if you try to fight laicization, fine, we'll fight. But we won't pay you to leave. In addition to the harm you caused to your victim(s), you have violated the trust we placed in you, on which grounds your employment and benefits were based. Besides, you won't need much money in prison."? Is there a sliding scale? How much would a priest be paid off for murder?(Tone! Regrets for snideness.)SNAP really said it best: In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?

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iIn our diocese, we were very unsucessful with appealing for any funds for priests with a stellar record of service with 25 years of ministry who left in good standing to pursue marriage to receive more than very modest few months transitional fund. Meanwhile, chartered pedophiles who laicizations are pending are still provided with living quarters, some remuneration, and unknown other benefits.Justice?May Dolan's lies cost him dearly in his bravado.

A friend just sent me an e-mail that yesterday, the Archdioces held a "protection of children" conference in Thornwood - the Legionairres place (given to them by the Archdiocese.)Of course Philly is providing legal assitance tp Lynn who "did his best" but just folowed orders.What did they say about where the fish stinks from?

How wonderful to be so sure that Dolan is lying.It's possible to view the $20,000 as quick justice: get the scoundrel out before he can cause more harm. I think I remember cases where the abuser attacked other children in the laicization gap.

(1) Has Cardinal Dolan issued a statement about the payments that he authorized in Milwaukee?(2) Here's one way he could rationalize the payout: If the priest in question were to fight laicization, then the priest in question would remain of the diocese's payroll while the fight proceeded in the Vatican. He would continue to receive his salary and room and board and possibly also medical and other forms of insurance. So Dolan might rationalize that the $20,000 bribe not to fight the laicization would save the diocese money on balance (i.e., the priest's salary and living expenses and possibly his medical and other insurance benefits).(3) Had the statutes of limitations run out, so that the priest in question could not be charged in the legal system?

FYI: It's Laurie GOODSTEIN.

The Cardinal's spokesman told me he is going to let the statements from the Milwaukee archdiocese speak for him and he won't have any further statement. I think there could be perfectly good reasons to pay abusers to go without a fight if that fight would cost money that could go to victims. Milwaukee was cash-strapped, and these documents emerged out of bankruptcy proceedings. I believe the archdiocese was offering something like $30k to victims -- in other words, just a bit more than it was offering their abusers. There are certainly reasons of justice and security for a diocese to provide the basics for men it pledged to take care of and in order to keep tabs on them in some manner. Just trying to dump abusers into the wider society can do more harm than good.That said the central issue is, as always, transparency and accountability and honesty. Ignoring those things got the bishops in trouble in the first place, and not being straight about these payments is what is getting the Cardinal in trouble here. Why not explain what you are doing in the first place, and why? And if your people don't buy it, don't do it.

Whatever the rationale or justification financially, it sure appears that he lied about the payout. Re-reading this, he said it was "false, preposterous, and unjust" to characterize these as "incentives," but not that that the payment itself was made for the other reasons surmised.The questions are not just motivation or financial responbility, but if is "Did you make payments to credibly accused pedophiles to assit them in leaving ministry voluntarily" it seems the answer must be, "Yes."

I agree with David: It was a mistake to suggest that these payments weren't being made, but offering an incentive to an abuser to make it easier to laicize him is not necessarily the wrong move. A priest could fight his bishop and the process could drag on for years -- and he'd be collecting salary and benefits the whole time.

You don't have to pay off pedophiles if you turn them in to the police. The money was to get them to go quietly.The bishops' fear of scandal once again creates a scandal.

Can somebody clarify for me whether, prior to any laicizing process, the police were notified concerning these men?

What Cupcake said!

I agree with the general tenor of the comments here. I also find SNAP's comment outrageous and malicious. If it benefits existing and potential victims to have the offender laicized as expeditiously as possible, I'd think SNAP would be in favor of it.

"You dont have to pay off pedophiles if you turn them in to the police"This comment confuses church law (laicization) with criminal law (minor sex abuse/pedophilia). Whether or not the state prosecutes and convicts the offendere, the laicization needs to be pursued.

This raises two very signifciant issues.1. Cardinal Dolan was not truthful. It is possible to characterize the payouts as a cost savings measure and even to justify them as an expediency measure. It is beyond obvious, though, that such payments would reasonably appear to be "payoffs." It is not truthful to then state "such an inference was false, preposterous and unjust." The "payoff" inference is reasonable, and should have been forthrightly addressed in language similar to: "It takes too long for the Vatican to handle contested laicization cases, so we find it cost effective and expedient to 'settle out of court' as is done in any other business transaction."2. But the Cardinal could not have addressed payouts in that manner because there is a second, far deeper, problem. The American bishops could not get the Vatican to timely laicize the pedophiles. There was a holdup in the Vatican. As Grant notes, the process could take years. There was, by all accounts, an emergency situation requiring relatively decisive action. The Vatican did not consider it an emergency and did not respond decisively. The Vatican had the power to change the laicization process from "years" to "weeks" or even "days." By "Vatican," I mean "the Pope." He failed his fellow bishops and the Church.If Cardinal Dolan had answered the inquiry regarding payoffs candidly, he would have been asked why the Vatican was so slow to laicize pedophiles. He could not satisfactorily answer that question without implicitly or explicitly criticizing his fellow Bishop in Rome, thereby violating the First Commandment.

I wonder what other dioceses did this more quietly or with different nomenclature or different "arrangments". I'd guess that it was hardly unique...

"This comment confuses church law (laicization) with criminal law (minor sex abuse/pedophilia). Whether or not the state prosecutes and convicts the offendere, the laicization needs to be pursued."This bears addressing, because I think Church officials often seem unaware of how such points come across to the public when they are made. Yes, there may be a process in church law to follow, but that isn't what concerns people. What concerns people is that the criminal law process is not adequately pursued. Leaders should be cognizant of this, and be on their toes when it comes to making it understood that the criminal side is being taken care of--indeed, that it takes precedence over the canon side. People want to see abusers out of their collars, but they want even more to see them in cuffs. Therefore, I would reverse your statement: I suspect that the public, which has an interest, would prefer that, regardless of whether or not the church laicizes priests, the state prosecutes them.That's why I asked if the laicizing process was following (or being pursued in conjunction with) actual criminal prosecution. Because if the latter doesn't happen, then the former seems like a slap in the face.

SNAP really said it best: In what other occupation, especially one working with families and operating schools and youth programs, is an employee given a cash bonus for raping and sexually assaulting children?Actually, I think by making that comment, SNAP forfeited the right to be taken seriously. It is a perfectly outrageous distortiona lie far greater than any Dolan may have told. I can't believe it has been approvingly quoted here.

Maybe we should raise funds to set aside for certain people, as a donation to be handed out to them on the day on which they leave their position.

"A priest could fight his bishop and the process could drag on for years and hed be collecting salary and benefits the whole time.""If it benefits existing and potential victims to have the offender laicized as expeditiously as possible, Id think SNAP would be in favor of it."I'd hate to have you guys giving advice to my bishop without first addressing these questions:1. Is it the case that a priest, even if he is a convicted sex offender and goes to jail, could still fight his bishop on laicization? 2. Is it likely that a priest under these circumstances would be able to make much of a case against his laicization such that it would "drag on for years"? If so, wouldn't the better solution be to expedite such cases rather than pay the priest to leave?3. Is it likely that the cost to the diocese to pursue the laicization through formal means would cost more than the $20K in "go away" money?4. Even if it is cheaper to give the priest $20K, is such a move a prudent PR move? When parishioners discover that the diocese gives convicted felons money to encourage voluntary laicization, how much does the diocese lose in credibility? Could that credibility result in revenues lost from the diocesan appeal? Possible grants from community organizations for social programs?

For once I find myself in agreement with David Gibson and Grant Gallicho. As a lawyer, I've been involved in numerous settlement agreements where a person whom you personally suspect of being nefarious, creepy, guilty, etc. receives a payment in exchange for settling their claims and going away. This is primarily the case when the facts are such that proving such person's nefariousness, guilt, or creepiness would be difficult, more expensive and perhaps unsettling. I couldn't read the entire Times story due to the subscription limits, so I was not sure of the details of the particular cases.

"Actually, I think by making that comment, SNAP forfeited the right to be taken seriously. It is a perfectly outrageous distortiona lie far greater than any Dolan may have told. I cant believe it has been approvingly quoted here."WOW - and I agree with David Nickol!

Jean Raber: As I indicated in my earlier message, it is entirely possible that the statutes of limitations prevented making criminal charges against the suspected priest. The NYTimes article does not provide enough information to know about this.

Priests can be removed from active ministry by their bishop, but they cannot be laicized without their consent absent a canonical proceeding, with appeal rights to Rome. As I understand it, these priests gave up those rights in exchange for the payments, allowing them to be immediately laicized. Lawsuits or potential lawsuits are settled all the time, such settlements almost always involve paying money, and the lawyers who negotiate such settlements do not refer to them, or consider them, "payoffs." As for Dolan's earlier statement, I believe he denied making a "payoff" to one particular priest. Does anyone know if that particular priest in fact received a payment?

Jim, do you yhink canon law trumps civil law and clergy should be treatred differently?

One minor correction, Lisa.Diocesan priests do not get their educations free. They must pay for their seminary training and most are saddled with student loan debt for years. In fact, a priest I know who criticized bishops in the scandal was hounded out of the priesthood by superiors basically for speaking out. Parishioners were totally behind him. He sued the bishop and won a settlement that included forgiveness of that student loan debt. The balance of the debt, say $50,000, was then credited as income to the ex-priest in that tax year. It created a large tax liability for him that took years to pay off. Don't mess with chanceries.

"Where's the outrage?"Great question. Searching...searching...searching...aha! There you are Charlie Pierce!http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/timothy-dolan-milwaukee-history-93..."Not long ago, Dolan was waxing wroth in the Wall Street Journal about how the president is making Catholics pay for aids to sexy sexytime that may not all be "open to the transmission of new life."Coercing religious ministries and citizens to pay directly for actions that violate their teaching is an unprecedented incursion into freedom of conscience.Yes, far better to take 20,000 of those dollar bills tossed into the basket of a Sunday morning and, without any substantive input from those Catholics whose consciences might object to this use of their donations, hand them over to a child-buggering monster just so the institutional Church can be rid of him.We're going to hear more than we need to hear from this Dolan character between now and the election. Any story about him that does not contain the phrase "...who once supervised a program to use the money collected from parishioners to pay accused child molesters to leave the priesthood..." is unworthy of being read."

D. Pasinski - this really is offensive in terms of what the typical diocese and order does for men who leave after 10, 20 years of service. Typically, they are offered insurance coverage until they find employement. They might (best case scenario) receive some type of severance - so much for every year served but this is a tiny minority. Most get nothing in terms of retirement (a few exceptions to this). So, a man who, for good reasons, may in conscience petition and leave the active priesthood receives little to no support vs. a credible pedophile who is financially supported until whatever? (this makes little sense and flies in the face of the usual episcopal blather about "you are a priest forever because it was an ontological change") There are lots of "justice" issues around clerical departures and how orders/dioceses wash their hands of these men - that is the scandal and it becomes even more pronounced when these types of episcopal behaviors come to light. And you are correct; know of orders that have made similar arrangements on a case by case basis.Agree with some of you - need to make some distinctions here. Am sure that most of these Milwaukee cases were past the SOLs but the diocese did determine that there were credible, if not, proven acts of sexual abuse. But, it would be helpful to know what the civil status was of the nine abusers who received at least $10K each years later?So, there are a number of questions:- this was after the 2002 Dallas chapter - so, you have at least two levels here - civilly: why weren't these priests reported to civil authorities (just because they were outside of the SOLs?)? if nothing else, this would have made a serious statement to these guys that went beyond "internal forum" or in the privacy/confidentiality of the diocesan leadership.- with Jean Raber......church level inserts the Vatican failure and internal struggle between CDF and Roman Rota; in 2003, you had JPII but no one in actual control when it came to these types of decisions and its impact on a diocese such as Milwaukee or Dolan as bishop.So, guess you could make an argument that offering to pay for a laicization would benefit the diocese financially. Canon law at that time was so slanted in favor of the abuser, that the diocese could be held financially liable to support an extended canon law court case e.g. have examples of this in the public domain - Tucson, Phoenix cases. and priests have fought laicization even when in prison e.g. Gordon MacRae.But, given that:- appears that Dolan misspoke- appears that the Milwaukee Diocese used funding that was separated from and not reported to the bankruptcy judge?- with Jean Raber, may have been technically okay but was it moral and ethical? Isn't this just another episcopal "the ends justify the means"?- there also have been serious discussion about whether "laicization" is even the proper step for a bishop or the church to take? It basically just releases a predator into society - doesn't the church have more of a responsibility here? both financially and ethically? (to Grant's post above)

A CASH REWARD FOR RAPING AND SODOMIZING CHILDREN! Further evidence that the Roman Catholic hierarchy is even more corrupt than during the Renaissance, including the Borgia popes!!! Incredulously, this guy Dolan harbors papal ambitions!!!!!!!!! If Dolan should become pope, it would be as good an indication as any that the Holy Spirit has TOTALLY abandoned the Roman Catholic hierarchy.It is way past time that Catholics cut all ties with the hierarchy, go their own way, by taking matters into their own hands: LET THE PEOPLE DECIDE! Once the hierarchs clean up their act with real reform and renewal in about a century or two, only then should Catholics consider having them back in the fold. Until such time, the hierarchy should be IGNORED and SHUNNED because they are IRRELEVANT and ALIENATED from the everyday lives of Catholics.

Nixon paid 'plumbers' to investigate what he thought were crimes He did not use FBI Secret Service or CIA so he could keep it secret. He used a slush fund to keep it all quiet. Just like Dolan.. But Nixon got caught. lied and had to resign..Dolan got caught, lied but will not resign and there is no impeachment possible. No hearings either. Just stonewalling that would make Catholic Gordon Liddy proud.. Get your suits cleaned and pressed, the march for Religious Liberty is in a fortnight. Bishops don't want sloppy looking people like Occupy WS has.. Some bishops might be wearing cappa magnas.

People keep saying it's possible that the statute of limitations was in effect, or that they're pretty sure that such was the case. Surely it is possible to find out whether that was actually the case?

My problem is this. If you paid them to leave, you chose to pay them to leave. For better or for worse this was the decision made at the time. There are probably going to be those who agree and those who disagree with it. My question is, why lie about it. That helps nobody. It just discredits the whole church.

'Jim, do you yhink canon law trumps civil law and clergy should be treatred differently?'No and no.

I agree with David Nickol about the SNAP comment - I feel like they have become the functional equivalent of the Catholic League in news reports like this one. If you need someone to say something belligerent and snappy and careless in support of the bishops, you call Donohue; if you need a similar quote in opposition, you turn to SNAP. We published an article by Nicholas Cafardi last year that explained some of the complications with pursuing laicizations as a penal matter. It complicates the picture quite a bit, and I think provides some useful background in this case.

"People want to see abusers out of their collars, but they want even more to see them in cuffs. Therefore, I would reverse your statement: I suspect that the public, which has an interest, would prefer that, regardless of whether or not the church laicizes priests, the state prosecutes them."Abe, I think you're essentially thinking about this the right way. I'm sure all of us agree that sex abusers should be in jail. My view is that both things need to happen: the perpetrator needs to be prosecuted and convicted by the state, and also laicized by the church. The public, especially the subset that is Catholic, would expect and demand both.

Lisa,How would you deal with religious-order priests (Jesuits, Franciscans) who are convicted pedophiles? Since they cannot be dismissed from their religious orders if they obey directives from their superiors, they can and are supported by their orders potentially for decades. And one could say that good, pious Catholics who support these orders are paying for the upkeep of pedophiles.I really think you are grandstanding with this post. As a ethicist who sees the world often in gray rather than black and white, you are making some pretty brights lines in an area where there is a lot of complications.

Goodstein's NYT piece is more than fair. Payoffs were nicely explained. It's all about the hierarchy thinking that the dumb laity cannot comprehend how a complex cleanup works.The dumb laity 'can't take the truth' ..Laity have been raising complex families for about 40 thousand years.

And also your use of the word "hierach" is growing tiresome too. A little sarcasm can go a long way but too much of it can weaken one's argument. Here, your passions seem to have gotten the better of you

I grew up being taught that priests see themselves as "alter Christus." I'm 74. Our local pastor, who's in Cardinal Dolan's generation, hammers away at that image frequently. I hope when the Cardinal does respond to the Times report he'll cite passages in the gospels where Jesus says something in Aramaic analogous to "an inference was false, preposterous and unjust when He answered questions.

It is a time-honored practice in public relations/crisis management, that when you can't satisfactorily respond to the charges (in this case the handling of pedophilia cases) to create a diversion (in this case the contraception mandate.) Could this explain the NCCB's obvious unwillingness to work toward an acceptable accommodation? Especially in an election year, partisan politics and claims of religions liberty infringement can push the more serious, but slower developing story to the back pages. There are a lot of attempts to rationalize Cdl Dolan's comments that pedophile priests were paid to leave were 'false, preposterous, untrue,' and try to find ways that they can fit the now-revealed facts, but is this the kind of statement, untrue on its face, that we condone from our spiritual leaders? There is indeed a crisis in the Church today, but it begins with the false leadership, not in the faithfulness of the flock, and certainly not from trumped up charges of attacks on our religious liberty.

Hi, Jean, I'm going to reply to your questions individually. I'm sorry I don't know how to make my replies appear in a different font or color. Let me just preface by noting that the comments from Grant and from me that you pasted at the beginning of your comment pertain only to laicization - those comments don't really have a bearing on criminal prosecution one way or the other."1. Is it the case that a priest, even if he is a convicted sex offender and goes to jail, could still fight his bishop on laicization?"I don't know the ins and outs of canon law in this regard, but I suspect that a conviction for a sex offense by a secular court would help the diocese's case in a laicization proceeding."2. Is it likely that a priest under these circumstances would be able to make much of a case against his laicization such that it would drag on for years? If so, wouldnt the better solution be to expedite such cases rather than pay the priest to leave?"I think the point of paying the priest a settlement is precisely to expedite the case. Please see Thorin's comment above: laicization is much quicker and simpler of the priest cooperates. Perhaps it is repugnant to have to pay someone to go away, but that is the way that many legal disputes get settled, from divorces to contract disputes to, apparently, laicizations. "3. Is it likely that the cost to the diocese to pursue the laicization through formal means would cost more than the $20K in go away money?"I don't know specifics of the cost of pursuing a contested laicization, but we're talking paying the lawyers (in this case, canon lawyers). I'd think that it could easily cost more than $20K. According to the NY Times story, the $20K was the most paid out (iirc); presumably some priests were paid less."4. Even if it is cheaper to give the priest $20K, is such a move a prudent PR move? When parishioners discover that the diocese gives convicted felons money to encourage voluntary laicization, how much does the diocese lose in credibility? Could that credibility result in revenues lost from the diocesan appeal? Possible grants from community organizations for social programs?"The PR is partially within the diocese's control: they have an opportunity to spin it to their advantage. Some of the explanations offered here seem to me the reasonable/right PR approach: 'We settled with this guy because it is the quickest way to get him away from our children and out of the Roman collar.'

I wish to say aword of defense for SNAP though I have no affiliation and never have so posted. In NCR, David Clohessy states that his problem is with the thre versions -- the diocesan, the records, and the Cardinal's. I think most here are saying something similar -- regardless of the utility or wisdom of the payments, Dolan at least obfuscated, at worst, truly lied and covered up. SNAP may be overly sharp and militant in this expression, but it is not comparable to The Catholic League. It was a voice in the wilderness and-- even with some impolite and wrong expressions -- should be listenewd to.

Whether the crimes are criminally actionable or not given SOLs, whether a priest can easily be laicized or not, what's to stop the church from firing a priest?

Once the pedophiles (as the Brits, say - paedos) are convicted of a crime, why do they have to continue to be paid and received benefits? Is that true while they are in jail?Canon law has always been written in a manner to benefit the clerical system the most. Conviction of a crime, even if laicization is not involved, should immediately stop all financial remuneration to the convicted priest. Period.

If it looks like a skunk and smells like a skunk - it's a skunk, now matter how you want to dress it in clerical accoutrement.

"There are a lot of attempts to rationalize Cdl Dolans comments that pedophile priests were paid to leave were false, preposterous, untrue, and try to find ways that they can fit the now-revealed facts, but is this the kind of statement, untrue on its face, that we condone from our spiritual leaders?jbruns: if the only information we're working from is the Goodstein article, I don't think we're given enough information to know whether or not it is untrue on its face. Here is what Goodstein reports:"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."Note that the Cardinal didn't utter those words when Goodstein reached out to him to get his comment on this story. A few paragraphs later, she reports that he declined to comment on this story. It's a quote that (a) she is lifting from some other, unidentified story; (b) the statement was made is in reference to one particularly notorious priest, which is not what this story is about; and (c) his response seems to have been to the characterization that the payment to that priest constituted a "payoff". That strikes me as a defensible response - I don't see the payment as a "payoff", either.

@AA: It's true that I react strongly to cases like this, especially in light of the magisterium's response to the sex abuse crisis generally. It's generally only in the media that bishops have been held accountable for their response to pedophilia, and SNAP has been a big part of that. (And "hierarch" is not intended to be snide, but descriptive. If I wanted to be snide, I'd say "kyriarch." I choose not to.) But a $20,000 payment to forego one's canonical right to trial and leave quietly? That's a lot of money. And that's just to leave. Remember, I already asked that their retirement not be cut off. And you are correct, I try to see gray. So for religious priests: first, civil legal proceedings must be pursued, then de-frocking, (if they are ordained.) But nothing good happens when (often) old men are cast out penniless onto the street. As some orders have done, I think putting them in a house under strict monitoring (on threat of expulsion,) isn't a bad solution. Inform the neighbors. Don't do this near schools. Make clear, publicly, that it's because tossing men out into the street without recourse is bad--and doesn't protect kids. In short, transparency, accountability, and mercy to all involved. Protecting kids must be the first concern, though.And I'm still interested in the comparison to priests, religious or diocesan, who leave to marry, or for other reasons. Are they given $20,000? This is where SNAP's critique hits home, istm. I wonder if in cases like this it'd be better to endure the long trial--or reform the system that makes it so hard to laicize sex abusers--than to try to keep it all quiet. So to quote from the last para of Cafardi's excellent essay:

The Catholic community deserves a fuller explanation of Romes reticence in laicizing known abusers. (In turn, church critics ought to acknowledge that cutting a molester loose doesnt necessarily protect kids.) The pope could do that. He should do that. We need less back story and more openness. If theres anything we can say with certainty about the crisis, its that secrecy does more harm than good.

"Whether the crimes are criminally actionable or not given SOLs, whether a priest can easily be laicized or not, whats to stop the church from firing a priest?"For a priest, laicizing him is firing him. However, a bishop can (and, given credible evidence, must) suspend a priest from his ministry. He is still considered a priest, the diocese still has some responsibility (and liability) for him, and must address questions like, "Where does this guy live while he's suspended?" that might seem relatively simple but in fact can be quite vexing. I've argued here in the past that it's in the church's and, arguably, the victims' best interests to laicize offenders as quickly and expeditiously as possible.

I believe part of the understandable outrage by SNAP speaks to the fact that survivors were jerked around in the legal system for years, while Dolan set a $30,000 limit for survivors, period --- a measly $10,000 more than perpetrators were paid quickly to go away.And I suspect confidentiality agreements were certainly part of the package.The unresolved problem is what releasing these (accused) predators without any supervision means for public safety. Bishops do not inform police or child protection authorities of their location. Laicized priests have been found, for example, working in middle school administration and even as a therapist for abuse victims. Background checks are useless in the absence of criminal conviction, but Dolan et al are apparently relieved. It's no longer the church's problem.This danger is another reason for statutes of limitation reform, with windows for past victims to come forward. About 300 more predators were identified when CA opened its window. Delaware also brought forward new names. Legislatures in Hawaii and Massachusetts are now considering window options to allow access to justice. Maybe at last bishops will have less control over access to evidence of crimes. Their distorted version of religious liberty means exemption from child protection laws because no one else is allowed to question their decisions about assignments to ministry. Lori on the matter while in Bridgeport: releasing church documents on "ecclesiastical policy decisions" undermines the diocese's "right to function as a religious institution."

I still think that in a complex world "paying off" a convicted pedophile so that his case not be long and drawn out might be an acceptable solution in some cases. And I still think that your tone in this post was overly sarcastic and was engaged in some grandstanding.

"And Im stil interested in the comparison to priests, religious or diocesan, who leave to marry, or for other reasons. Are they given $20,000? This is where SNAPs critique hits home, istm."The similarity between the two cases is pretty superficial. There is quite a difference between a priest who voluntarily applies for laicization in order to get married, and a perpetrator who abuses children and refuses to leave the priesthood. That SNAP can't see the difference, or does see the difference but doesn't care, says more about SNAP than it does about priests or dioceses.

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About the Author

Lisa Fullam is associate professor of moral theology at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. She is the author of The Virtue of Humility: A Thomistic Apologetic (Edwin Mellen Press).