I made the mistake of thinking the New York Times piece today on papal contenders might be a casual read. Turns out I didn’t get past the “D” in Dolan before they lost me.
In handicapping his papal prospects, the Times tells us, not for the first time: “As archbishop in Milwaukee, he authorized payments to abusive priests to get them to step down.” Time and again, the Times has characterized Dolan’s time in Milwaukee as if he were part of the problem, rather than part of the solution to scandal and abuse. It is not to canonize him to take a look at the situation with a little fairness. He approved the quickest and most efficient way to get priests accused of misconduct out of ministry. Any money was simply humane — these men who had previously had their room and board, so to speak, covered, were now out on their own. Rather than keep the living expenses of these priests on the archdiocese’s budget and keep the victims waiting with long canonical trials, Dolan opted to offer some financial support to priests who voluntarily relinquished their ministries.
I understand everyone’s inclination to believe the worst. But at a certain point it is simply unjust. Cardinal Dolan marks a generational shift — he’s seen too much to be lenient or worse. The Church now tends to err on the side of guilty-until-proven-innocent with accused priests. That’s not ideal, but it’s almost a priestly penance for the sins of the others.
The New York Times does have a nice piece today about some young men I pray for every day.