In a letter issued just before he went to Rome this week, Timothy Cardinal Dolan warned that his name could be connected with some bad publicity regarding his home archdiocese of St. Louis.
Dolan said in a letter issued Tuesday that he tries to alert parishioners about “any potentially negative publicity about the Church, or about me,” and “there could be some.
“My home archdiocese of St. Louis just complied with a court order to release the documents regarding cases there of sexual abuse of minors. (Cardinal Egan already did that here a decade ago, sharing all of the information we had on abusive priests with proper district attorneys, something we continue to do today,)” Dolan wrote.
Dolan served as an auxiliary bishop in St. Louis for a year in 2001 and 2002, and as a vicar for priests for nine of those 12 months. Thus, he wrote: “I would anticipate that my name will again be highlighted in the press. I sure have nothing to hide, and am very much at peace with law enforcements officials reviewing the files. In fact, we already released all the documentation to them a dozen years ago!”
“This will be, I suspect, a repeat of last year’s attempt by the same tort lawyers to muddy my name. A year ago, they contended- – remember?- -that while Archbishop of Milwaukee I had ‘hidden funds,’ and they had even deposed me. Nothing of course ever came of it, although the ever-compliant press here gave me headlines about being deposed,” he wrote.
Documents made public back last summer revealed that as Milwaukee Archbishop, Dolan sought and received permission from the Vatican to move $57 million from a cemetery fund into a trust to provide “improved protection” as the archdiocese prepared to file for bankruptcy amid dozens of claims by victims of clergy sex abuse.
Dolan’s 2007 letter and the Vatican’s response were included in thousands of pages of documents the archdiocese released as part of a deal reached in federal bankruptcy court between the archdiocese and clergy sex abuse victims suing it for fraud. Victims say the archdiocese transferred problem priests to new churches without warning parishioners and covered up priests’ crimes for decades.
“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 1/2 years that I served as Archbishop of Milwaukee,” Dolan said in a statement last year. “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 victims’ attorneys accused Dolan of trying to hide the money as the Milwaukee archdiocese planned for bankruptcy. The archdiocese has denied those allegations from the beginning.
Dolan last year called any suggestion he was trying to shield money from victims an “old and discredited” attack.
“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,” Dolan said in the statement last year.
Following Dolan’s most recent remarks, leaders of the Survivor’s Network of Those Abused by Priests called Dolan’s statement “preposterous and self-serving” in remarks to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
But the Archdiocese of New York said since there is already publicity about documents regarding sexual abuse by priests in St. Louis, Dolan wanted to let his parishioners what was happening ahead of time, the newspaper reported.