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Dolan deposed in connection with sex abuse lawsuit

February 20, 2013 8:17:25 PM PST
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, was deposed Wednesday about abuse cases against Roman Catholic clergy in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which he led from 2002 until 2009.

Frank LoCoco, an attorney for the Milwaukee Archdiocese, and Jeff Anderson, a plaintiffs' attorney, confirmed the cardinal was deposed.

"It went very well from my point of view," Cardinal Dolan said.

Timothy Cardinal Dolan came home to his residence Wednesday night with a positive spin on the three hour deposition.

"I didn't know that's what they called it. I've known for the last two, two and a half years because they had said, 'Would you be willing to answer questions about your happy years in Milwaukee,' and I said, 'You bet I would,'" Dolan said.

But the cardinal's critics charge that during his time leading the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, he failed to clean up what was one of the Catholic church's most damaging sex abuse scandals.

They allege he exacerbated the problem by transferring millions of dollars out of church accounts and out of reach of nearly 500 abuse claims.

Cardinal Dolan's seven years in Milwaukee and his handling of sex abuse claims is emerging as an issue just as cardinals from across the globe prepare for the conclave at the Vatican.

Already there are calls for church officials tainted by sex abuse scandals here in the United States to stay home.

So far, most of the pressure is falling on California's retired Cardinal Roger Mahony because of his role shielding sexually abusive priests.

In a relatively short time, Cardinal Dolan has become one of the most recognized and influential figures in the Catholic Church. Some have even mentioned him as a possible successor to Pope Benedict the 16th.

He's a dark horse candidate, perhaps, who's deposition recalls a connection to a dark period in the Milwaukee Archdiocese' history some won't soon forget.

"I'm not supposed to talk about it. I don't know why. I hope the day comes that I can," Dolan said.

The Milwaukee Archdiocese faces allegations from nearly 500 people. Archbishop Jerome Listecki, the current Milwaukee church leader, sought bankruptcy protection in 2011, saying the process was needed to compensate victims fairly while ensuring the archdiocese could still function. Milwaukee is the eighth diocese in the U.S. to seek bankruptcy protection since the abuse scandal erupted in 2002 in Boston.

Dolan's deposition was first reported by The New York Times.

Additional church officials deposed in connection with the bankruptcy and lawsuits include another former Milwaukee archbishop, Rembert Weakland; a retired auxiliary bishop; an archdiocese official who helps victims; the archdiocesan chancellor; and others, according to LoCoco and a spokesman for the Milwaukee archdiocese.

Joseph Zwilling, a spokesman for the New York Archdiocese, said Dolan had long-awaited the chance to discuss his decision to publicize the names as part of his efforts to help victims.

"He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could," Zwilling said in a statement.

(Some information from the Associated Press)

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