SNAPwisconsin.com

After paying off pedophile priest, Dolan dispatched rep to assure worried molester his secrets were safe

Money not tied to “health insurance” as Dolan claimed in 2006, internal church document shows 

Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)

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Soon after giving a “signing bonus” of $10,000 to one of Milwaukee’s most prolific pedophile clerics to leave the priesthood, Cardinal Timothy Dolan dispatched a top official of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to assure the worried molester that he had no intention of notifying the public of the abuser’s extensive history of sexually assaulting youngsters in parishes and assignments in the Milwaukee Archdiocese and elsewhere.

The offender, Fr. Franklyn Becker, was concerned, according to an internal church memo written by Deacon David Zimprich, that his history of abusing children, if made public, would prevent him from obtaining a new job. Zimprich, acting on behalf of Dolan, assured Becker that the archdiocese “wasn’t advertising he was laicized” and unless Becker himself told someone they do not believe “it was on the internet.”

The conversation between Zimprich and Becker took place at a restaurant on February 2, 2005 and was detailed in a confidential, signed two page report submitted by Zimprich.

Laicization is the official name for the administrative process used by the Vatican to remove a priest from the clerical state and reduce him to a member of the laity. A priest may seek laicization voluntarily or be forced to undergo the process due to “grave offenses”. Involuntarily laicization is the harshest penalty that the church can impose upon a priest who has committed wrongdoing.

According to Zimprich’s summary of the meeting, Becker had already received his $10,000 payout, what Becker refers to as his “settlement”. Becker asked Zimprich if the payout is taxable, and Zimprich indicates that it was being categorized as income.

When Becker’s payout was discovered in March 2006, Dolan emphatically denied that he had paid Becker for leaving the priesthood. “For anyone to assert that this money was a ‘payoff’ or occurred in exchange for Becker agreeing to leave the priesthood” Dolan wrote in a statement at the time, “is completely false, preposterous, and unjust”.

The Zimprich Report, along with several confirmations by the Archdiocese of Milwaukee last week confirm that the money was tied to signing the laicization papers. Becker is just one of a number of sex offender priests, maybe a dozen or more, that were paid to leave by the Milwaukee Archdiocese under Dolan, and then his successor Jerome Listecki, from at least 2003 to 2010.

Yesterday, Dolan attacked victims of clergy sexual assault, their advocates, and the New York Times for uncovering the documents and characterizing them as payments contingent upon leaving the priesthood. Refusing to answer any specific questions about his involvement in the payouts or his public denial in 2006 that such payments were being made, Dolan left yesterday for a trip to Ireland.

The payout plan, however, was discussed in detail with Dolan at a 2003 Milwaukee Archdiocese Finance Council Meeting, according to minutes of the meeting filed with the Federal Bankruptcy court in Milwaukee last week. The Milwaukee Archdiocese declared bankruptcy months after Dolan was promoted by Pope Benedict XVI to head the New York Diocese in 2010.

In the 2003 minutes, Dolan discusses a plan, later implemented, of paying sex offending clerics $10,000 at the beginning of the laicization process, and $10,000 upon its completion.

And the Zimprich Report shows that, also contrary to Dolan’s 2006 claims, the money was not going to be used for health insurance and had no ties to “charity” or “charitable purposes” at all. In fact, Becker explains to Zimprich—and it is clear that the money had already been paid–that he is unable to afford health insurance (in part because his income is “too high”) and that he is currently looking for a government program for which he qualifies. Zimprich assures him that he has contacted Catholic Charities to make possible arrangements for coverage.

Becker, then and now, lives in a comfortable suburban subdivision. The car lease, which Becker mentions to Zimprich he seems unable to release himself from, was reported to be a Lexus.

Additionally, in 2008, the Mayville Police Department reported that Becker was under investigation for being seen in the boy’s locker room at a youth recreational facility. The police were also asked to investigate a report from a mother concerned that her now adult son had been sexually assaulted by Becker as a child. Her son, who was seven years old at the time, was found naked at a neighbor’s doorstep after fleeing Becker’s mother’s Mayville residence.

SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com