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?

Lisa Fullam is 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).

Also by this author
New Year's Resolutions?

Please email comments to [email protected] and join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Must Reads

Politics
Culture
Books