home
RSS
February 21st, 2013
08:50 PM ET

Milwaukee lawsuits shadow N.Y. archbishop

By Ted Rowlands and Kathleen Johnston, CNN

(CNN)–He's the top Roman Catholic figure in the United States, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and one of the princes of the church who will decide on a new pope.

But Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, is now under fire for how his old archdiocese in Milwaukee shifted money as it faced lawsuits by victims of sexual abuse by priests in Wisconsin.

Dolan sat for a deposition with lawyers for some of the victims on Wednesday, the New York archdiocese confirmed. He was Milwaukee's archbishop from 2002 to 2009, a period in which the archdiocese moved $55 million into a fund for cemetery maintenance and as much as $74 million to a fund for individual parishes.

Dolan "made a conscious decision to secretly and in a quite sinister way to move funds into parishes and transfer funds into other corporations to avoid having to pay the survivors," Jeff Anderson, a lawyer for some of the abuse victims, told CNN.

Dolan declined an interview with CNN for this report. But in a 2011 interview with a New York television station, he called the allegations "ludicrous."

Follow the CNN Belief Blog on Twitter

But the Rev. Jim Connell, the former vice chancellor of the Milwaukee archdiocese, said the church needs a directive from the very top to come clean.

"There is a sense of secrecy from a top level," said Connell, now retired. "And I would hope that starting with the holy father, Benedict XVI, he would tell the cardinals and tell the bishops to talk."

The worldwide church has spent years dealing with the fallout from its handling of priests accused of sexually abusing children, and Anderson said the Milwaukee archdiocese "has been particularly deceitful." Wisconsin state law blocked lawsuits by most victims of sexual abuse for years, which protected the church. When that changed, lawyers for the victims say, the archdiocese began preparing for court by moving its money.

The archdiocese declared bankruptcy in 2011 when faced with lawsuits by hundreds of potential victims. In December, a bankruptcy court judge found that the timing of the 2005 transfer to the Parish Deposit Fund appeared "fishy," but ultimately decided that the move was justified: The money belonged to individual parishes, not the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, Judge Susan Kelley ruled.

A creditors' committee pointed to minutes from a 2003 meeting of the archdiocese's finance committee that discussed whether to set up a fund to "shelter" the Parish Deposit Fund. But Kelley said that sentence "does not necessarily constitute the smoking gun" that proves the church was trying to shield money from the victims.

Church officials argued the $55 million transfer to the cemetery fund, in 2007, was needed and came from people who paid for burial plots in eight Catholic cemeteries, expecting perpetual care for the grave sites.

"The obligation to maintain the cemeteries never ends," said William Duffin, an attorney representing the cemetery fund. "No one knows for sure how much is enough."

CNN’s Belief Blog: The faith angles behind the biggest stories

Kelley has yet to rule on the question of whether the transfer to the cemetery fund was proper. But Marquette University law professor Ralph Anzivino said that if the archdiocese was moving money around to hide it from abuse victims, it may have broken the law.

"That is what's called a fraudulent conveyance under the law," Anzivino said. "You can't, in anticipation of insolvency, transfer assets away from yourself for your own benefit and lessen what the creditors are entitled to."

A win for the victims could mean that they would not only get a share of the cemetery trust fund, but a share of future earnings from the sale of grave sites. A win for the church could lay out a blueprint for the other dioceses now grappling with lawsuits themselves and could cement Dolan's reputation in the eyes of the Vatican as the guardian of the American church.

Dolan is among the cardinals who will choose a new pope after the resignation of Benedict XVI. The cardinal himself was a 33-1 longshot for the papacy as of last week, according to one British bookmaker.

Milwaukee's Chapter 11 proceedings already have led to the discovery that in 2003, he approved payments of $20,000 to get abusive priests to leave the church. The Milwaukee archdiocese confirmed that it had offered the payoffs as "the most expedient and cost-effective way" to get rid of molesters.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests urged Dolan to allow his Wednesday deposition to be open to the public rather than placed under seal: "The 570 victims of priest sex offenders who filed cases, Catholics of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and the public deserve to read and see Dolan's testimony."

And they're not the only ones calling for openness. Connell said the church needs to "open up, let it all be known."

"It's the love of money that translates into greed, that is the root of all evils," Connell said. "And that seems to be what I see is playing out in this situation.

"What's under the lid?" he asked. "What's being hidden? How embarrassing can it be?"

CNN's Elizabeth Nunez contributed to this report.

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Belief • Bishops • Catholic Church

soundoff (240 Responses)
  1. Joe

    This is really about money for the so caller victims and lawyer.

    February 24, 2013 at 8:08 pm |
    • Doobs

      "so caller victims"??

      I'll assume you mean the children who were molested and raped by priests.

      They are victims. Nothing "so called" about it. No amount of money will make up for their ruined childhoods.

      February 24, 2013 at 8:15 pm |
    • lk

      Your dismissive comment about the victims, the children, is disgusting.

      March 9, 2013 at 6:53 pm |
  2. sam stone

    pedophiles.....catholicism.....redundancy

    February 24, 2013 at 2:31 pm |
  3. and it just gets worse and worse

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/feb/23/cardinal-keith-o-brien-accused-inappropriate

    February 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm |
  4. AvdBerg

    Spiritual Truth

    To find the truth go to http://www.gaychristian101.com

    Ask; and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    February 24, 2013 at 9:16 am |
  5. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill would not is not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well and don't want to violate their beliefs.

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    On sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    ============================================
    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 24, 2013 at 9:08 am |
  6. AvdBerg

    Spiritual Truth

    To find the truth go to http://www.gaychristian101.com

    Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).

    February 23, 2013 at 12:29 pm |
    • frank

      Rubbish – that's one of the most ridiculous sites I've ever visited.

      February 23, 2013 at 2:46 pm |
  7. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill would not is not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well and don't want to violate their silly beliefs.

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    On sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    ================================================
    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 23, 2013 at 11:55 am |
  8. Over 40,000 denominations of insanity

    Some believe that celibacy is appropriate for certain people, or for certain positions. It's ridiculous. Celibacy is unnatural and will continue to cause problems for the religious institutions that employ it.

    Many of the people from these same institutions advocate against abortion, but don't understand the realistic benefit of the morning after pill or even basic contraception; their unrealistic wishful thinking is causing the death of many at the hands of disease. Realistically, many abortions could be avoided if a morning-after pill would not is not viewed as such an evil option. Many of these same people bring children into the world at a high pace, and then would prefer that the rest of society take over and educate their children in their particular brand of religion when they don't plan well and don't want to violate their silly beliefs.

    Recently we learned of the head of LCMS chastising a minister of that church for participating in a joint service for the victims of the Newtown school shooting.

    One sect calls homosexuality an abomination while the next one in the same denomination is already performing gay marriage.

    One sect, the Westboro Baptist Church believes Americans are being killed at war because America is too kind to "fags".

    One sect believes that Jesus and Satan were brothers and that Christ will return to Jerusalem AND Jackson County, Missouri.

    On sect believes women to be subservient, while another sect in the same denomination promotes equality between the sexes.

    Conflicted right from the very beginning, Christianity continues to splinter and create divisions and more extremism as it goes.

    =================================================
    Has anything improved with Christianity since 200+ years ago?

    Thomas Jefferson, POTUS #3 (from Notes on the State of Virginia):

    Millions of innocent men, women, and children, since the introduction of Christianity, have been burnt, tortured, fined, imprisoned; yet we have not advanced one inch towards uniformity. What has been the effect of coercion? To make one half the world fools, and the other half hypocrites. To support roguery and error all over the earth.

    James Madison, POTUS #4, chief architect of the U.S. Constitution & the Bill of Rights (from A Memorial and Remonstrance delivered to the Virginia General Assembly in 1785):

    During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What has been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the clergy; ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry, and persecution.

    John Adams, POTUS #2 (in a letter to Thomas Jefferson, 09/03/1816):

    I almost shudder at the thought of alluding to the most fatal example of the abuses of grief which the history of mankind has preserved – the Cross. Consider what calamities that engine of grief has produced! With the rational respect that is due to it, knavish priests have added prostitutions of it, that fill or might fill the blackest and bloodiest pages of human history.

    Ben Franklin (from a letter to The London Packet, 3 June 1772):

    If we look back into history for the character of present sects in Christianity, we shall find few that have not in their turns been persecutors, and complainers of persecution. The primitive Christians thought persecution extremely wrong in the Pagans, but practised it on one another. The first Protestants of the Church of England, blamed persecution in the Roman church, but practised it against the Puritans: these found it wrong in the Bishops, but fell into the same practice themselves both here and in New England.

    Thomas Paine (from The Age of Reason):

    All national institutions of churches, whether Jewish, Christian or Turkish, appear to me no other than human inventions, set up to terrify and enslave mankind, and monopolize power and profit.

    February 23, 2013 at 11:49 am |
  9. i

    Sweet hour of Prayer! Sweet hour of Prayer!
    That calls me from a world of care
    And bids me at my Father's throne
    Make all my wants and wishes known
    In seasons of distress and grief
    My soul has often found relief
    And oft escaped the tempter's snare
    By thy return, sweet hour of Prayer!

    February 23, 2013 at 7:48 am |
  10. Info

    An examination of the 300 Prophecies of Jesus from the Jewish Scriptures.

    http://www. amazon. com/300-Times-0-ebook/dp/B00BDFMLAI

    300 Times 0 is 0

    February 22, 2013 at 11:20 pm |
    • Science

      Info...... you should know this

      Nature works

      No god(s) required

      Particle Physics Research Sheds New Light On Possible 'Fifth Force of Nature'

      http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221192736.htm

      By the way Bible is not a good source for the true creation story John

      February 23, 2013 at 7:40 am |
  11. justice

    in public schools, pedophilia is rare. Pedophilia happened quite often in catholic diocese. However, abuse of older kids does happen often in public schools at about the same % as in catholic schools.

    In fact pedophilia accounts for over 40% of abuses in catholic schools. Small children 5 to 10 are most prevalent.

    And teachers are heroes for blowing in fellow pedos. And when a child is found to be abused, that child is more often given immediate medical attention. However in the catholic church, clergy is a hero for protecting the pedo. and they deny the child, many times with threats.

    You might also note that teachers WANT to pass laws that would expose pedos and the cover ups while the catholic church lobby to stop those laws from passing. That's a tell-all.

    February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • JJ

      And for every one priest who is raping children there are 3 others who are not but are aware of what Brother John is doing but stays silent in fear of being reprimanded or defrocked. You see on this blog how the Catholics are always screaming "but (insert secular institution here) rape children too!!"

      February 22, 2013 at 6:44 pm |
  12. justice

    nearly 20% of clergy in catholic diocese are responsible for the abuse of children. This % is by far greater than any other organization or profession.

    February 22, 2013 at 6:22 pm |
    • ..

      There is also nothing untrue about what Jesus posted, either, chrissy.

      February 22, 2013 at 7:31 pm |
  13. Atheism is not healthy for children and other living things

    Prayer changes things.

    February 22, 2013 at 6:12 pm |
    • midwest rail

      @ Jesus – you do realize that you're just as boring as the prayer troll, right ?

      February 22, 2013 at 6:25 pm |
    • Susan StoHelit

      Midwest – a lie, unchallenged, becomes the truth.

      It's annoying, but the alternative is to leave the lie to stand – which, as the response shows, it does hurt people. People die from believing the lie.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:45 pm |
    • chrissy hitchens

      There is nothing in the name "atheism is not healthy for children and other living things" or the statement that "Prayer changes things" that is not true.

      February 22, 2013 at 6:57 pm |
    • midwest rail

      Susan – do you honestly believe anyone is going to be swayed by a spammed response on a blog ? Please.

      February 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • Really?

      ""atheism is not healthy for children and other living things""

      That's why the data shows that atheists have happier and better marriages than conservative Christians. By the way lying is a sin.

      February 22, 2013 at 7:01 pm |
    • According to the bible prayer cannot change anything

      In the christian world there are 2 possible realities
      Either god's plan controls the universe and everything that happen is god's will. So if you pray for something to (happen/not happen) that is not god's will, it doesn't matter how hard or how many of you pray, it can't happen
      Or
      God gives us free will and refuses to interfere with our choices. So praying is just stupid because god is going to let (insert good/bad thing) happen, no matter how hard or how many of you pray

      February 22, 2013 at 9:21 pm |
    • i

      Sweet hour of Prayer!

      February 23, 2013 at 7:49 am |
    • Jesus

      Prayer does not; you are such a LIAR. You have NO proof it changes anything! A great example of prayer proven not to work is the Christians in jail because prayer didn't work and their children died. For example: Susan Grady, who relied on prayer to heal her son. Nine-year-old Aaron Grady died and Susan Grady was arrested.

      An article in the Journal of Pediatrics examined the deaths of 172 children from families who relied upon faith healing from 1975 to 1995. They concluded that four out of five ill children, who died under the care of faith healers or being left to prayer only, would most likely have survived if they had received medical care.

      The statistical studies from the nineteenth century and the three CCU studies on prayer are quite consistent with the fact that humanity is wasting a huge amount of time on a procedure that simply doesn’t work. Nonetheless, faith in prayer is so pervasive and deeply rooted, you can be sure believers will continue to devise future studies in a desperate effort to confirm their beliefs!

      February 24, 2013 at 8:58 am |
1 2 3 4

Post a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Advertisement
About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke and Eric Marrapodi with daily contributions from CNN's worldwide newsgathering team.