(NY Times) Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.
Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were â€œold and discredited attacks.â€
However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, â€œI foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.â€ The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.
The release of more than 6,000 pages of documents on Monday was hailed by victims and their advocates as a vindication and a historic step toward transparency and accountability. They were well aware that the archives would bring unusually intense scrutiny to the countryâ€™s most high-profile prelate, Cardinal Dolan, who as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the archbishop of New York has sought to help the church turn the corner on the era of scandal.
Cardinal Dolan has been regarded by many Catholics as part of the solution. In public appearances, he has expressed personal outrage at the harm done to children, apologized profusely and pledged to help the church and the victims heal. [more]