The role of the Catholic Church is to guide and protect its followers. Except, apparently, when it’s protecting its pedophile priests instead.
According to hundreds of documents that were released this week, the Milwaukee archdiocese has ignored eight decades worth of sex-abuse scandals. Instead of investigating sexual assault claims against its priests, the Milwaukee archdiocese, headed at the time by current New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, either disregarded the claims or simply reassigned priests to unsuspecting parishes. Not surprisingly, this response did not prevent further assaults because it did nothing to address the real problem: pedophile priests.
In fact, the only people that benefited from the arrangement were the sexual assaulters themselves. Records show that one priest molested the same minor close to 40 times in the span of five years, while another assaulted over 200 boys as headmaster at a school for deaf boys. Some were moved over 11 times in 34 years, while others were stayed with the church for close to a decade after the Vatican was notified of their sexual child abuse.
If that’s not disgusting enough for you, consider the fact that Dolan and the Vatican frequently corresponded on the costs of fighting sexual assault claims in court, and when certain sex scandals threatened to surface, Dolan asked permission to move $57 million of the church’s money into a trust fund to protect it from “any legal claim and liability.” In short, prevent it from falling into the hands of those abused and violated by the church’s priests.
Though it apparently takes the Vatican years to respond to sexual assault claims, it took them less than a month to approve Dolan’s financial plan. Their priorities thus far seem to be protecting priests, no matter how terrible their crimes, and protecting their own money.
To add fuel to the already raging fire, even in the rare occurrences that priests are asked to leave, they are often paid close to $20,000. They’re essentially being paid to stop molesting children under the auspices of the Catholic Church. Who knew that sexual assault merited a financial reward?
This new information raises a few key issues. The first is about the credibility of Dolan. Currently, as head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Dolan is the highest Roman Catholic official in the U.S. But anyone that has been proven to ignore child abusers under his own roof is not worthy of a position in a religious institution. Dolan’s role in the church should be seriously evaluated.
Second, and more significantly, how is this blatant abuse of priestly power tolerated? The Catholic Church has been infamously connected with pedophilia for a while now, but these records have cemented that link by proving that the church basically protects pedophile priests. Pursuing all of these cases would obviously be incredibly expensive and a PR nightmare, but as a moral and religious organization, ignoring them is terribly hypocritical on the church’s part.
And why aren’t Catholic families more outraged? How can Catholic parents continue to venerate a church whose only real concern seems to be self-preservation?
Are our children an acceptable sacrifice to maintain the Catholic Church?