MILWAUKEE (AP) -- The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has confirmed it paid suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry.
The acknowledgement comes after a document surfaced in the archdiocese's bankruptcy case discussing a 2003 proposal to pay $20,000 to "unassignable priests" who accept a return to the laity. The policy was crafted under then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who now leads the New York archdiocese.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests characterizes the payments as payoffs to priests who molested children. The group told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that it's calling on the archdiocese to release all records involving the payments.
An archdiocese spokeswoman disputes that characterization. She told The Associated Press late Wednesday that the money was meant to quickly remove the men from the priesthood and help them transition into lay life.