(THE CHURCH REPORT) — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed Wednesday that it had a policy to pay suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry.

The acknowledgement was prompted by a document made public by abuse victims’ advocates from the archdiocese’s bankruptcy that references a 2003 proposal to pay $20,000 to “unassignable priests” who accepted a return to the laity. The policy was crafted under then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is now a cardinal and head of the archdiocese in New York.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests characterizes the payments as a payoff and bonuses to priests who molested children. The archdiocese disputes that characterization, saying the payments were in part to more quickly move those men out of the priesthood.

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