The late Pope John Paul II had a one-word label for priests who commit sexual abuse: criminal.
Beyond that unequivocal secular descripion he also said it was "an appalling sin in the eyes of God."
Apprently that never got to the Archdiocese of Milwaukee which had knowledge of sexual misconduct by a priest and yet continued to assign him, according to documents released from a California lawsuit against the archdiocese.
No wonder the archdiocese faces potential bankruptcy.
The release of this information couldn't have come at a worse time for Archbishop Timothy Dolan who inherited a substantial mess when he took over five years ago, including a disclosure that nearly $500,000 in "hush money" had been paid to a man who had a relationship with outgoing Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland.
The latest disclosures come on the eve of a massive archdiocesan capital campaign, one that's sure to take a hit as Catholics ponder whether to offer financial support when archdiocesan stewardship has been questionable. (To his credit, Dolan quickly adopted a strong "take no prisoners" stance on sexual abuse and opened up archdiocesan financial records.)
The archdiocese says that money raised in the campaign won't be used to pay sexual abuse victims but clearly these payments have drained archdiocesan reserves.
While our Catholic faith teaches forgiveness the need for accountability and proper stewardship remain.
On a personal level, I truly feel sorry for the usually upbeat and unflappable Dolan, a man who outside the priesthood could easily be a viable candidate for public office. But even his superb p.r. skills may not be enough to pull the archdiocese out of this one.