NEW YORK - New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan authorized $20,000 payments to a handful of sexually abusive priests so they would immediately leave the Milwaukee archdiocese when Dolan was archbishop there nearly a decade ago, a church spokeswoman said on Thursday.
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) first announced the payments on Wednesday upon discovering minutes of a March 2003 meeting of the Milwaukee archdiocese finance council meeting. SNAP is demanding full disclosure of all such payments.
Church officials confirmed the payments as approved in the minutes but archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf said she had yet to determine how many priests received them, estimating the number at "a handful, a couple."
"This money has been characterized as bonuses or payoffs and that's simply not the case. In 2002 and 2003 when the clergy abuse crisis really came to a head, people were calling for priest offenders to be removed - get them out of there - and the church here agreed in order to expedite that process," Wolf said.