Newly Released Documents Show Milwaukee Archdiocese Shielded Pedophile Priests
02 July 2013
Newly released documents reveal how the Milwaukee archdiocese dealt with dozens of priests accused of sexually abusing children. Pedophile priests were moved from parish to parish, often protected from criminal complaints. Ray Suarez talks to Laurie Goodstein, who covers these issues for The New York Times.
GWEN IFILL: Now: new documents that show a history of sexual abuse problems in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Ray Suarez has the story.
RAY SUAREZ: Many of the cases go back decades, and most of the 6,000 pages of documents were released publicly for the first time yesterday. The records show pedophile priests were moved from parish to parish, often protected from criminal complaints.
The documents also contain files on more than 40 priests either dismissed or restricted, including the late Father Lawrence Murphy, believed to have molested as many as two hundred deaf boys. The documents also shine a light on New York Archbishop Cardinal Timothy Dolan, formerly the archbishop of Milwaukee. Documents show he asked for the Vatican’s approval in 2007 to move nearly $57 million dollars off the diocesan books into a cemetery fund to protect church assets.
Dolan denies the claims as long discredited.
Laurie Goodstein covers these issues for The New York Times, and joins me now.
The current Milwaukee archbishop warned his people, prepare to be shocked.
Laurie, in these latest documents, were the details shocking and what do they do to fill in the story of clerical abuse in Milwaukee?
LAURIE GOODSTEIN, The New York Times: Well, you can trace cases by reading these documents, a long evolution sometimes, the first reports of parents coming into the chancery offices, and reporting that something has happened to their child, and the growing awareness as an increasing number of reports come in and church officials begin to try to grapple with what to do with this priest.
Sometimes, it’s a very long evolution, in some cases, more than two, three, even four decades in one case, where the priest is often sent for treatment. Then, he is reassigned, sometimes reassigned multiple times to many parishes. And those parishes in most cases, at least in earlier decades, were not informed that their priest had a problem with pedophilia.
Then, in the later decades, you see an attempt by church authorities to deal with the liability, the financial liability, and an attempt to say now it’s time to get this abuser out of the priesthood. And, in that step, you see correspondence between the archbishops of Milwaukee and the Vatican, where they’re seeking permission. Sometimes, it takes as many as six years before these cases are approved by the Vatican to remove a priest from the priesthood.
RAY SUAREZ: And that’s where the current cardinal archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, comes into the picture, when he was serving the church in Milwaukee. He gave one version of events. Do these documents give another?
LAURIE GOODSTEIN: Well, Cardinal Dolan has always said that he was attentive to victims and that he tried to move priests out of the priesthood. And the documents do show that he indeed did that behind — he was working on those cases behind the scenes.
But there’s one particular point that Cardinal Dolan had always resisted. He always said that he didn’t move assets of the archdiocese in order to shield them from lawsuits and legal liability.
But there is one particular letter that appears, as you mentioned, in 2007, where Cardinal Dolan is seeking permission from the Vatican to create a cemetery trust to move $57 million dollars off the books of the archdiocese into a separate trust. And in that letter, he says to the Vatican, I — in essence, he says, I think this is a good idea because it will protect the funds from legal liability.
So, that is a situation where Cardinal Dolan has said one thing and here you have a document showing something else.
RAY SUAREZ: You have been covering the lawsuits, the cover-ups, the attempts of the church not only in the United States, but worldwide, to handle this burgeoning scandal.
Are we closer to the end than the beginning? Are document releases like these part of what may allow the church to eventually close down this era in its problems?
LAURIE GOODSTEIN: Well, sex abuse victims are asking to see these documents. Many times, they don’t know until they see these documents that they were not, say, the only person reporting a particular priest. Or they don’t know how the church handled things, what they were saying behind the scenes about their cases.
So, seeing these documents is very much a vindication for a lot of these abuse victims. But what it does also is to bring — keep the issue going in many ways, and perpetuate it being in the public eye. And I think that the church would very much like to move beyond that.
RAY SUAREZ: The Milwaukee disclosures come during the same week as Pope John Paul II cleared one of the final hurdles toward being declared a saint in the Roman Catholic Church, a process that in relative terms he zoomed through.
Right now, the church is dealing with some of the legacies of his pontificate in financial scandals, in the ongoing trials concerning clergy abuse. Does this sully his legacy in a way that may give him problems before a canonization perhaps even as early as later this year?
LAURIE GOODSTEIN: Well, it sounds like the case for canonization is moving ahead because what’s needed are verification of miracles and healings.
And the Vatican committee charged with that is finding those. There are victims who would, you know, prefer to see that Pope John Paul is not made a saint. But there have been saints made in the past who aren’t perfect. And those who are carrying forward the case of Pope John Paul say that may be the case here, that there — he will be honored and recognized for many of the good things he did, and we just won’t talk about the rest.
RAY SUAREZ: Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times, thanks for joining us.
LAURIE GOODSTEIN: Thank you for having me.
Cardinal Dolan Addresses How Church Responded to Clergy Sexual Abuse
The Christian Post
July 2, 2013|1:59 pm
By Stoyan Zaimov , Christian Post Reporter
NEW YORK – Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York has responded to depositions released by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee that share details of how priests, including Dolan, handled several cases relating to child abuse by clergy.
“Responding to victim-survivors, taking action against priest-abusers, and working to implement policies to protect children, were some of the most difficult, challenging, and moving events of the 6 ½ years that I served as Archbishop of Milwaukee,” said Dolan, who currently serves as president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
“One of the principles that guided me during that time was the need for transparency and openness, which is why I not only welcomed the deposition as a chance to go on-the-record with how we responded to the clergy sexual abuse crisis during my years in Milwaukee, but also encouraged that it be released.”
The deposition discloses a 2003 case, among others, where the Milwaukee archdiocese asked the Vatican to remove a priest who had been found to have repeatedly abused children. The priest received counseling and alcohol abuse treatment and was eventually ordered to stop dressing as a priest and told not to attend seminary buildings.
The Associated Press noted that the priest’s dismissal took more than a year, however, as the archdiocese awaited action from the Vatican office in charge of sex abuse cases.
Dolan worked hard to push out such priests from the ministry, however, even paying them to leave the priesthood in some cases.
“The impact on his various victims has been significant,” Dolan wrote to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who led the Vatican office at the time. “The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has yet to even locate all of the potential victims that could come forward for assistance. Our new found awareness of the severity of damage caused by sexual abuse at the hands of clergy makes it impossible for us to ignore this situation.”
The newly released documents detail sex abuse committed by dozens of priests, as well as information on a deal between the archdiocese and victims suing it for fraud that reached the federal bankruptcy court. Victims had accused the archdiocese of sending priests found to have committed abuse to new churches without warning the parishioners.
In his statement on Monday, Dolan warned that the release of the documents might lead to some interpreting them incorrectly and raising “old and discredited attacks,” such as clergy found guilty of abuse to have been paid to apply for laicization, or defrocking.
“Like it or not, bishops do have a canon law obligation to provide basic support like health care and room and board for their priests until they have finally moved on,” Dolan said.
“While certain groups can be counted-upon to take certain statements or events out of context, the documents released show plainly that the bishops have been faithful to the promises made over a decade ago: permanent removal from ministry of any priest who abused a minor; complete cooperation with law enforcement officials; and, strict child-safety requirements.”
The cardinal insisted that the sexual abuse of minors is both a crime and a sin, and called upon the church body to remain “rigorous in our response when an allegation of abuse is received, and ever-vigilant in maintaining our safeguards to do all that we can to see that children are protected.”
Dolan concluded with hopes that the release of the depositions will show people that the Catholic Church in America is leading the fight against sexual abuse in society, and seeks to help other groups and organizations that are working on this problem.
In March, when Pope Francis was elected leader of the Roman Catholic Church, a network for survivors of clergy abuse said that he provides a “glimmer of hopeful expectation” that the church body can start dealing more forcefully with clergy who have committed abuse and work to prevent such crimes in the future.
New York’s Cardinal Dolan accused of shielding pedophile priests: documents
- Enlarge PhotoCardinal Timothy M. Dolan
The Catholic Church in Milwaukee shielded and defended from prosecution numerous priests accused of pedophilia, hundreds of newly released documents show. And among the document dump: New revelations that New York’s archbishop helped shield the church from the financial hit it was taking from sexual abuse charges.
The documents highlight legal testimony from Cardinal and Archbishop of New York Timothy Dolan, who appealed to the Vatican for counsel on the cases while he served as archbishop in the Milwaukee church, 2002 to 2009, Reuters reported.
The paperwork spans 6,000 pages and details roughly 80 years of abuse cases. Some of the revelations: The Milwaukee archdiocese reassigned — rather than investigated — priests accused of sexual molestation to other churches.
And at one point, then-Milwaukee Archbishop Dolan himself asked the Vatican to move $57 million to a trust fund to keep it from being taken in looming court action — to protect it “from any legal claim and liability,” the court documents stated, Reuters said. The Vatican did approve the transfer, about a month later.
Jeff Anderson, one of the attorneys representing 500 abuse victims, said that money was “to pay off some of the offenders to quietly go away,” Reuters reported.
Meanwhile, in 2011, the archdiocese in Milwaukee had to file for bankruptcy, due to the financial hit it was taking form sexual abuse claims.The bankruptcy judge subsequently ordered the documents to be released to the public.
Cardinal Dolan denied on Monday that his request to transfer the money was to shield the church from its sexual abuse scandal and keep it financially solvent. He only meant to have the money transferred to a “perpetual care fund” for use for church cemeteries, he said, Reuters reported.
So far, the Catholic Church has paid out about $3 billion in settlements due to sexual abuse cases, Reuters said.
Former priest named in sex abuse documents claims innocence
Posted on: 8:59 pm, July 2, 2013
by Ben Handelman, updated on: 10:33pm, July 2, 2013
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — There are 42 names in thousands of pages of documents released on Monday, July 1st that shed light on the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal. These men named in the documents are men the church says are known sexual abusers — but one of those men says he has done nothing wrong, but says he has no way to prove that.
Like many of the priests named in the thousands of pages of documents released Monday, July 1st, Father Michael Neuberger has worked at many churches. A man who became a priest at a young age, he’s accused of molesting boys as soon as his career began.
In a psychologist’s report, released in the documents, Father Neuberger told doctors he found the confessional personally sexually arousing.
Documents say the priest offered to help by giving sex advice — sometimes including hands-on instruction.
The documents indicate Neuberger admitted his crimes to doctors and other priests. He was placed on restrictions and ordered away from churches.
Today, Neuberger teaches GED classes at the YWCA in Milwaukee — something he has been doing for more than a decade.
Neuberger’s boss said she was unaware of the allegations against him and the documents released Monday.
“I would have to take a look at the release first before I had any further comment,” Neuberger’s boss told FOX6 News.
Peter Isely, the Midwest Director of SNAP, a non-profit organization that advocates for victims of church sex abuse says many of the priests named in the report have gone on to have successful careers.
Former priests named in the report include a social worker and a grief counselor.
Neuberger actually reached out to FOX6 News on Tuesday night — after a reporter stopped by the YWCA. He said: “I have not had any sexual contacts with minors. Never.”
“This is distortion of anything that I have ever said. And it was taken out of psychological evaluation with a psychologist under the protection of doctor client confidentiality. I have never admitted to having sex with minors. I have never admitted to force anyone to have sex,” Neuberger said.
Neuberger says he has never seen the documents or many of the allegations against him until now. He says the church is to blame for not giving him a chance to clear his name.
“(Now almost 50 years later I’m in the position of trying to defend myself when all of the witnesses I could call are dead, several of my accusers are dead. What am I suppose to do?” Neuberger said.