A priest tells the truth; a cardinal lies

Here’s a snippet from a rabidly anti-Catholic rant from a writer incensed by the Vatican’s recent crackdown against women, LGBT people, nuns and Girl Scouts:

The Vatican is hypocritical and duplicitous. Their belief is always that someone else needs to clean up their act; the divorced, the gays, the media, the US nuns, the Americans who were using the wrong words to pray, the seminaries, etc. It never occurs to the powers that be that the source of the problem is the structure itself. … Religious women in the US refuse to be controlled by abusive authority that seeks to control out of fear.

… This investigation is not about wayward US nuns. It is the last gasp for control by a dying breed, wrapped in its own self-importance.

So, who wrote this diatribe? And what radical anti-Christian blog or alt-weekly published it?

Well, actually, it’s from the parish bulletin of Blessed Trinity Catholic Church in Cleveland. And it was written by the local Catholic priest, Father Doug.

* * * * * * * * *

Meanwhile, Cardinal Timothy Dolan was caught in a lie. Laurie Goodstein of The New York Times reported the documented facts.

The archbishop responded by doing what he does best: Attacking a woman and smearing abuse victims. Goodstein’s report was “groundless and scurrilous” Dolan said.

The New York Times last week cited documents showing that when Dolan was Archbishop of Milwaukee in 2003 he agreed to pay several alleged pedophile priests $20,000 if they left the church.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese also admitted to the payouts after the plan was revealed by the advocacy group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

While speaking to reporters Sunday, Dolan claimed the payments were “charity.”

He also blasted the SNAP and the Times, calling the report groundless and scurrilous.

The New York Times does not have a reputation for fair and accurate reporting when it comes to this issue, it has little credibility when it comes to this issue and its reporting and SNAP has no credibility whatsoever,” Dolan said.

In other words, as Mark Silk writes, “Dolan Doubles Down.”

Silk double-checked the story, reading the documents for himself. Dolan lied.

Dolan had claimed that a $10,000 down payment on a $20,000 payoff to dismiss an abusive priest quietly was simply “an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching, that allowed a person to obtain health insurance coverage he simply could not afford on his own.”

The paper trail shows that’s not true:

Confirmation of the story is provided by two status reports on the case that were written by one of the two officials in question, Deacon David L. Zimbrich, describing meetings with Becker [the abusive priest] on February 2 and 8, 2005. In the first, Zimbrich says that Becker expressed concern about his health coverage. …

In addition, Becker wanted to know whether he had to pay taxes on “the $10,000 settlement that Fr. Curt [Frederick] and I had given him when we met with him.” In the second report, Zimbrich told Becker that he would indeed have to pay taxes on the $10,000, and  furthermore: “I advised him that the archbishop was not going to pay for his health insurance, either directly or by making some kind of financial arrangement.”

The documents make it clear that Dolan’s claim that the $10,000 was for Becker’s health insurance is bogus — not only because Zimbrich says so explicitly, but because Becker’s request for the insurance coverage came AFTER he had received the check. If the money was not such “an act of charity, in line with Catholic social teaching,” what was it? Exactly what Zimbrich said was: a settlement. For all Dolan’s bluster, there just isn’t any way around it.

Click through to read Silk’s full post, which also includes links to .pdfs of the reports and documents.

The archbishop lied. And now he’s lying about lying.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I’ve never understood the move from lying to lying about lying.  It just leads to more and more lies and, if you’ve reached this point, your web of lie is already severely flawed.  All that you’re doing is digging deeper.  Collapse is inevitable, you’re just increasing how much ammunition there is to use against you.

    When you can still get away with I understand continuing to lie, but when you’ve reached the point of lies squared you’re not going to get away with it.

  • Gosh, I wonder what the Bible says about things like that.

  • VMink

    Wow!  That’s a hard-hitting indictment from Fr. Doug.  But as a friend of mine said, how long before he gets replaced?

  • Magic_Cracker

    I think Cardinal Dolan is pretty well convinced that his position and the privilege and power that comes with it will simply protect him from the consequences of his lying. The earthly consequences, anyway, and if he really believed in unearthly consequences, he would not have lied.

  • VMink

    Also, Dear Archbishop Dolan,

    The garments upon the lower half of your body appear to be of sufficiently high temperature that they are energetically releasing radiant thermal energy and luminous gasses whilst loosing molecular cohesion.

    In other words, your entire robe is on fire, you Goddamn (and I mean that quite, quite literally) child-rapist enabler.

    If anything the NYT has been lax in its reporting over the past thirty years.  It’s bloody refreshing to see a story this so well-researched.

    Without Any Love,

  • BrokenBell

    Criminy. I’m in actual, literal, real-life laughing fits over Dolan trying to talk about “credibility”. Credibility! This is just too good. I can’t even.

  • Father Doug is exactly what the Catholic Church needs. Good for him, he’s a brave person and a good preacher. He does his job. 

  • Tricksterson

    Off topic, Ray Bradbury is dead and I’m depressed.

  • SisterCoyote

    How does he imagine that this pit of lies is still escapable? Does he truly not realize that with every blatant lie, he digs himself deeper?

    I am aghast. Does he imagine we are all so foolish, so lacking in attention, that as soon as he hits something plausible, we will all simply forget the astounding amount of damning evidence? Seriously, how on earth can he imagine this playing out any way but against him?

    It’s really weird to watch someone operating on an outdated form of reality. This could really go for most of the Vatican hierarchy – for so long, they have been untouchable, even in guilt, that they look around now and wonder why people have the gall to point out that they are in the wrong, even while staring at their sins, recorded in full, in the face. It’s incredibly disconcerting. Like watching men who have been throwing live coals at anyone they felt like for years, and waiting for others to scramble and bury and put out their problems – and now they’re standing in an inferno, while a video plays back the flamethrower they just leveled on the brush, and they’re still trying to claim innocence. It truly boggles the mind.

  • AnonymousSam

    Dolan just believes in the same sort of ethics that Nixon did, and which are commonly applied to God to explain away the worst parts of the Bible: “It doesn’t matter which actions are performed, only who performs them. When I open my mouth, it’s not a lie, it’s the facts as stated in a manner which cumulates toward the greater good, even if they only seem to benefit a certain few people in the short run.”

  • AnonymousNYC

    Dolan as head of the USCCB started the war on SNAP to push back and save Bishop Finn in KC. If you want to play hardball, the public documents involving Dolan’s ambitious ruthless climb to the top of the RC child abuse dung heap are there for the reading.  If SNAP is bankrupted by Timmy’s tactics, nothing better  to do with your time than read, read, read especially the fraud or what looks like fraud in the Milwaukee Archdiocese bankruptcy and the Cemetery Trust cooking of the books. How do you spell R.I.C.O. laws?
    On another level, the media in NYC have had or been giving Dolan a honeymoon, with real journalists, there are a few left, having to bite their tongues with the Dolan PR Bullshit Machine.  Honeymoon is over I think.  Media feeding frenzy begins except for maybe FOKS NEWS?

  • Tonio

    Would the settlement payments be better described as hush money?

  • Ursula L

    … This investigation is not about wayward US nuns. It is the last gasp for control by a dying breed, wrapped in its own self-importance.

    The priest who wrote this might wish that the investigation of US nuns was “the last gasp for control by a dying breed.”

    But I’m not sure that he can state this as factual truth.   

    US Catholics are a small proportion of the Catholic population worldwide which the Vatican claims authority over.  US nuns are a tiny proportion of US Catholics.  The Catholic bureaucracy has survived much larger scandals and corruption over the centuries.  

    As long as money from Catholics in the US, and worldwide, continues to flow into the Vatican’s bank accounts, the men in charge there will have very real and very dangerous power.  Not “dying” at all. 

    A rant against abuses by the Vatican in the church newsletter may make parishioners feel good about being part of that parish.  But unless the parish in question is doing something to structure its finances so that they are not providing material support for these abuses, it is just a rant.  

    You don’t get points for calling the people perpetrating these abuses a “dying breed” when you’re giving them money to keep them and their ideas alive.  

    And telling parishioners that those behind the abuse are a “dying breed” while actually continuing to send some of the money they put in the collection plate to the abusers is a dangerous lie.  Because it encourages them to keep giving money, keep supporting the institution that is abusing them, to continue to be counted as members of the organization behind the abuse, followers of the abusers.  

  • Barry_D

     “When you can still get away with I understand continuing to lie, but
    when you’ve reached the point of lies squared you’re not going to get
    away with it.” 

    Dolan and a number of other bishops have been lying for decades, and have gotten away with it.  Remember, even now, lies and deeds that would have put many of them away for decades are survivable, with no sacrifices on their parts.

  • Ursula L

    There are a lot of variations on “getting away with” a lie.

    Dolan doesn’t have to convince the US public in general, or even ordinary US Catholics.

    To get away with the lie, he merely has to convince his superiors that he is more useful keeping his post than being removed from it, and he needs to create enough confusion and obfuscation to limit the financial effects of the abuse on the institution.  

    Which means that as long as money keeps going into the collection plates, and the hierarchy believes that he is effective at limiting the amount of money that goes out to victims, he’s gotten away with his lies.  

  • Rockione23

    The really scary part is theres bets being placed that Dolan might be in line for the papacy someday. Like we need the 1st US pope to be as corrupt as a US politician!

  • Ouri Maler

    Dolan’s lies are obvious to US, but I have to wonder how many people actually believe him.

  • Tonio

    If this type of settlement was the norm in the US church, I have mental images of Dolan and top cardinals being led off by federal marshals. I would love to see a purge where people like Dolan are replaced by reformers like Father Doug.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    I don’t know. A good proportion of Popes have been more corrupt than politicians can dream of. It’s sort of a tradition.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    There’s nothing that can be done to him. He could have smiled and said that he signed over the money than shared a scotch and a joint with the guy and suffered absolutely no consequences because it doesn’t much matter what people think of Timmy. All that matters is what the Vatican thinks of Timmy, and they’re pretty convinced that he’s top notch. It’s frustrating to no end, but you start to anticipate that those with indefensible positions will continue to repeat the same untrue statement because they can be sure of never having to answer for them.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    My biggest problem with the Timmy Dolan story is that the focus is on the wrong place. Do we really need to know whether or not the payment he made was charity or a payoff? He didn’t turn a pedophile over to the police! Is there something that I’m missing? Some arcane knowledge that makes any action other than “turn over to the police” a viable one? I don’t much care whether he gave the guy money to keep him quiet, to pay for his insurance, or to cover a poker debt. That Dolan didn’t call the police and have a child rapist arrested means he’s an awful person and child rape enabler.

  • Tonio

    From my reading, Fred wasn’t suggesting that the payoff was morally worse than the shielding of a pedophile. The Church hierarchy was already breaking laws by shielding, such as transferring suspect priests to other parishes. I see the payoff as important because it suggests a willingness by the hierarchy to break other laws to protect its own power.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if other crimes came out about a strategy originating from the highest levels of the church. I can imagine attempts to bribe victims’ families to buy their silence; harassment and intimidation to force that silence; or pressure on Catholic prosecutors and judges to drop charges against accused priests.

  • drummerboy

    I think you have a false understanding of what it means to be a cardinal. Cardinal Dolan cannot and would not hide behind his title to protect him from these earthly consequences.
     And as for the lying aspect, have you ever considered that it was in fact an act of charity? Is it at all possible that Archbishop Dolan saw the secular institution of severance pay and considered it to be something that he could use as a charitable gift. He does not have to offer a severance package, but out of charity he does. 

  • Kaoru Negisa

    Sorry, I was unclear. I wasn’t referring to Fred, who’s right on point, but other news outlets digging to find out the timing of when Becker asked for insurance help and the like. Sure, it may lead to more crimes that they’ve committed, but even that is a rather pointless exercise since they won’t be prosecuted, just like the other crimes that have been uncovered and not prosecuted. I know I sound cynical, and I hate to do that over the perennially upbeat Slacktivist, but at this point there’s more than enough evidence of criminal wrongdoing to put away half of the hierarchy, and nothing will ever be done about it. As it is, very few people seem to be focused on pedophile hiding, so I suspect that more finanical payoffs won’t make a whole lot of difference.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    So what if it was? No matter what you call it, he gave money to a person rather than turning them over to the police for raping children. That is never right, no matter what the circumstances of giving the money is. If you don’t call the police on somebody who rapes children, you have aided and abetted a child rapist.

  • Tonio

    I’m a bit more optimistic only because I’m familiar with the history of the Nixon administration. Spiro Agnew’s crimes were unrelated to Watergate, but his resignation as VP was part of a plea agreement to avoid jail time. Depending on the amount of evidence that prosecutors have, one scenario might be dozens of key cardinals retiring instead of serving time. It’s possible that the hierarchy may be guilty of crimes that would fall under RICO.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    I sincerely hope that you’re right. It’s hard to believe since many of these allegations are decades old and almost nothing has been done on it (except for one trial that implicates a dead man), but maybe there will be a reckoning and these criminals will actually be punished for their crimes.

  • Ursula L

    Do we really need to know whether or not the payment he made was charity or a payoff? 

    Legally, it makes a difference.  

    If it is “charity” then it isn’t a crime.

    If he’s paying off a criminal to help cover up the initial crime, then a second crime has been committed. 

    This can make a very real and practical difference.  It affects whether or not Dolan can be prosecuted for a crime.  It affects the statute of limitations for going after this conspiracy – the payoff is a criminal act that you can use as a starting point to count the limitation period, and it is a later starting point than the date of the rape.  

    This goes back to my earlier post of what it means for Dolan to “get away with” his lies.  Even if it doesn’t matter to us as individuals, if his lies are enough to muddy the water so he isn’t prosecuted for paying off the rapist and covering up the crime, then he has gotten away with it. 

  • I think you have a false understanding that cardinals are above the law.

  • Kaoru Negisa

    That makes a whole lot of sense. Thank you very much for clarifying it. %)

  • Ursula L

     And as for the lying aspect, have you ever considered that it was in fact an act of charity? Is it at all possible that Archbishop Dolan saw the secular institution of severance pay and considered it to be something that he could use as a charitable gift. He does not have to offer a severance package, but out of charity he does.  

    Okay.   He knows someone who works for him has raped a child.

    He doesn’t call the police.

    He doesn’t call child protective services.

    He doesn’t give money to the harmed child and the child’s family, so they can pay for medical and psychological care for the child.

    None of that.

    Instead, he give a large sum of money to the rapist.  

    While doing everything possible to protect the rapist from being held morally and legally accountable. And nothing to protect other children from the rapist by ensuring that the children and their parents know the danger this individual is to them.

    And you want to call that charity?

    If that is charity, then charity is one of the most evil things a person can do.  May I never, ever be accused or guilty of the crime of charity.  

    And if this is the Catholic Church’s definition of being charitable, then frankly it falls upon every believing Catholic to say “fine, I’ll go to Hell”, and accept the damnation the Church says will come from abandoning it, rather than supporting this monstrosity on earth.  

    Does Dolan genuinely believe that giving money to rapists while covering up their crimes and blaming and gaslighting their victims  is an appropriate expression of Christian charity?

    If that is what he believes, then he has proven himself utterly unqualified to provide any sort of moral leadership.

    He doesn’t get points for being charitable, even if he genuinely believes he was being charitable.   Because intent isn’t magic, and even if he intends a payoff to a rapist while hiding the crime and gaslighting the victims to be “charity” it is not in any way actually a charitable or loving thing to do.

  • Isabel Sinton

    Perhaps its time for a Divorce – from the Catholic Church. This will entail a division of property.The Bishops and Cardinals can have the impressive buildings, all the satin and gold lame vestments they can carry, all the pedophile priests, monks, and brothers, all the arrogance and clericalism they can handle and the concept of ‘Pay, Pray ( or is it prey ?) and Obey. The laity, faithful, and anyone who wants to join them can have Ethics, morals, Jesus and his teachings ( something the bishops and Cardinals weren’t using anyway) , Common Sense to make their own logical decisions on Birth Control, Married and/or Women Priests, and oh, and the laity will keep their money.If you like this idea, feel free to appropriate it and pass it off as your own.

  • If that is charity, then charity is one of the most evil things a person
    can do.  May I never, ever be accused or guilty of the crime of


    Because intent isn’t magic, and even if he intends a payoff to a rapist
    while hiding the crime and gaslighting the victims to be “charity” it is
    not in any way actually a charitable or loving thing to do.

    I can’t imagine that it was even intended to be charitable. The only person who is really supposed to benefit here is the Church, by preventing its reputation from being shot by public exposure. The rapist is a side beneficiary, in that they get protection from prosecution and ready access to new victims by the Church. If the victim gets anything at all out of it, it’s wholly accidental, and probably completely erased by the aggressive way the Church has tried to humiliate, discredit, and intimidate victims and their advocates.

    I keep reading that post over and over, and I can’t tell if he’s kidding or if he really thinks that it makes any sense at all to think that the sex abuse scandal coverup was some kind of noble deed on Dolan’s part. I mean, how disengenuous can you get?

  • Martin

    Scurrilous;  coarse, indecently abusive.  This word used by Cardinal Dolan to describe the charge against him was once used by the late Father Richard Neuhaus when he said, “I can say with moral certainty that the charges against Father Maciel are false and sdurrilous.”  We now know with ,”moral certainty”, that the charges were all true and then so

      It would appear from this that only, stating a charge that someone the bishops have decided to protect has actually done something coarse and indecently abusive, is scurrilous.

  • How can you tell a Roman Catholic dude wearing a robe is lying?

    His mouth is moving.

  • Tricksterson

    Unless it just a regular Catholic guy wearing a bathrobe.  Or engaging in cosplay or LARPing.

  • AnonymousSam

    I thought I saw someone cosplaying as a Catholic priest, but it turned out to be a genuine tentacle monster.

  • Ursula L

    I can’t imagine that it was even intended to be charitable.  

    Just like you, I have a very hard time imagining that such a payment could be intended to be charitable.


    He says he intended it to be charitable.  Which means that he is inviting us to believe him to be, and treat him as, a person who considers such an act charitable. However difficult it is to imagine that such an act could be intended as charity, that is what he says he intended.  

    [sarcasm] And shouldn’t we give him the benefit of the doubt, and not call him a liar just because it is difficult to imagine that he could be telling the truth?[/sarcasm]

    There are many times when the truth of a situation is not pretty, but that doesn’t make the situation untrue.  

    His superiors have remained notably silent on the merits and morality of  his claim.  And he’s high enough in the church hierarchy that we can reasonably assume that his statement has been noticed. 

    Which means that his superiors in the Catholic Church hierarchy agree that such a payment is a charitable thing, a loving and good thing. 

    If they didn’t agree that this was “charitable” they surely would have spoken up to correct him.  To distance themselves from his position.  

    To ensure that the people who follow them aren’t taught that paying off rapists and gaslighting rape victims is a charitable thing.  

    We judge the congregation that applauds a preschooler singing about QUILTBAG folks being certain to go to hell as a congregation that teaches that it is good to believe that QUILTBAG folks will go to hell.  Because that’s what preschoolers in their care sing about, with their approval.  It is factually correct to know them to be people who teach the hatred inherent in the claim that QUILTBAG folks are certainly deserving of eternal torment.  

    Dolan is a person who had made a well publicized public claim that giving money to rapists while gaslighting rape victims is charitable.  The Catholic hierarchy hasn’t done anything to correct or repudiate this.  

    So the only thing to do is treat them as the monsters they claim to be.  Monsters who believe and teach that paying off rapists and attacking rape victims is charitable.  

    They paid off and protected rapists.  And they deserve all the legal consequences of being people who pay off and protect rapists.  They claimed that paying off and protecting rapists is charitable.  So they deserve all the moral and social consequences of being known as people who actively teach that paying off and protecting rapists is a good thing.

  • P J Evans

    There were witnesses to what he said and did. So he has to deal with the consequences of his actions.
    Also, cardinals are not immune to secular law in this country, no matter what they and Benny-the-pope think.