Dolan Rips 'Groundless' Claims That He Authorized Payments to Abusive Priests

Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of the Catholic Diocese of New York, said on Sunday that reports he approved payments to priests facing sex abuse charges while he was archbishop of Milwaukee were "groundless and scurrilous."

Speaking to reporters after mass at St. Patrick's on Sunday, Dolan blasted the New York Times' coverage of “this issue” saying it was not fair or accurate. He also took aim at the organization behind the charges – specifically the abuse victims' advocate group Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, which recently made public a document from the archdiocese's bankruptcy proceedings that references a proposal to pay up to $20,000 to priests accused of abuse who return to the laity.

"SNAP has no credibility whatsoever," Dolan said. “To respond to charges like that that are groundless and scurrilous in my book is useless and counterproductive.”

The Times was among numerous media organizations that reported about the document made public by SNAP.

Dolan’s comments Sunday seemed to contradict a statement made to WNYC by a spokesman for the Archdiocese of New York last week, which said that the cardinal "has read and supports the statement from the Archdiocese of Milwaukee."

A spokesman did not return request for clarification on Sunday.

Dolan also said nothing like that had occurred in the New York Archdiocese.

"Thank God Cardinal Egan did a splendid job, that's all taken care of," said Dolan, referring to his predecessor.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed last week it had a policy to pay suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry, a practice that was crafted under Dolan, it said.

The archdiocese said in a statement last week that in 2002, the church "affirmed that priest offenders should no longer be functioning as priests in any capacity and having someone seek laicization voluntarily is faster and less expensive and it made sense to try and move these men out of the priesthood as quickly as possible."

Dolan is leaving New York today for Ireland, with about a hundred people from New York, where he'll attend the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin next weekend.