According to documents released today, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, moved nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund in 2007 specifically to shield it from lawsuits by victims of clergy sexual abuse. The New York Times has the scoop:
[T]he files released Monday contain a letter [Dolan] wrote to the Vatican in 2007, in which he explained that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.”
The Vatican moved swiftly to approve the request, the files show, even though it often took years to remove known abusers from the priesthood.
The files also reveal graphic details of the alleged abuse, including new revelations about its magnitude:
Archbishop Listecki released a letter last week warning Catholics in his archdiocese that the documents could shake their faith and trying to explain the actions of church leaders while offering apologies to victims.
“Prepare to be shocked,” he wrote. “There are some graphic descriptions about the behavior of some of these priest offenders.”
Although Dolan has no direct connection with the abuse, he has long been suspected of helping to protect the Church from its repercussions, particularly during his tenure as the archbishop of Milwaukee:
Cardinal Dolan’s moves involving church assets have come under particular scrutiny. Lawyers for the victims said the documents would prove that he transferred $130 million from the church’s books — about $55 million in a cemetery account, and $75 million in an investment account — to shield the money from abuse victims.
This latest bombshell arrives after a tough week for Dolan: On Wednesday, he issued a joint press release calling the Supreme Court’s DOMA ruling a “tragic day for marriage and our nation” that went against “the common good of all, especially our children.”