(Photo: REUTERS/Allison Joyce)
Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York answered questions Wednesday in a legal deposition concerning sexual abuse cases filed while he was still in charge of the archdiocese of Milwaukee.
Dolan, who is also the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and considered the leading American candidate for the soon-to-be vacant papacy at the Vatican, served at the Milwaukee archdiocese from 2002 to 2009.
The 62-year-old cardinal was questioned on Wednesday for over three hours by a lawyer representing over 500 people who claim to have been abused by clergy in Milwaukee, Reuters reported.
"More specifically, the questioning was intended to deal with his decision early in his tenure to publicize the list of known abusers in the church for the public," revealed Frank LoCoco, the archdiocese attorney.
The Milwaukee archdiocese was forced to file for bankruptcy in 2011 after being hit hard by financial drain of dealing with sexual abuse settlements, and it has acknowledged that mistakes were made by the church in dealing with pedophile priests. It was the eighth U.S. Roman Catholic diocese to do so since 2002, after sexual abuse scandals started surfacing against the church, costing the national diocese over $2 billion in settlements.
The Associated Press noted that Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a network of church abuse victims and their supporters, will ask for the transcript of Dolan's testimony to be made public.
"He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to cooperate in whatever way he could," Archdiocese of New York spokesman Joseph Zwilling said.
The second U.S. cardinal who will be deposed this week is retired archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony, who was stripped of his duties by current L.A. Archbishop Jose Gomez earlier this year. Gomez said that that his predecessor did not do enough to address abuse by priests during his time in charge.
Both Mahony and Dolan are expected to travel to Rome to attend the Vatican conclave in March, which will elect the successor of Pope Benedict XVI. The pontiff surprised many Catholics around the world when he announced that he would be resigning at the end of February.
Dolan has spoken out about the importance of tackling the sexual abuse problems that have overwhelmed the Roman Catholic Church and the country in the past decade, expressing the church's willingness to partner with educational institutions seeking to educate the public about child exploitation.
"One of the good things God might bring out of this evil and this tragedy would be now some type of alliance between religion and the educational establishment in a major national campaign to see that this is faced head on," Dolan said in 2011.