Washington D.C., Feb 15, 2019 / 03:11 pm (CNA).- Ahead of an expected decision in the case of Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, new details have emerged about his likely financial status in the event that he is laicized.
Sources close to the former cardinal told CNA that McCarrick has previously declined an income from the Church, and that he has private means of support in place.
McCarrick’s conviction and possible laicization have been the subject of consistent media speculation and expectation in recent days. He faces numerous charges of sexual abuse against minors and adults over a period of decades. A decision in the case is widely predicted to be announced ahead of a Vatican summit on child sexual abuse, which begins Feb. 21.
While no decision or penalty has yet been announced, sources close to the archbishop told CNA Friday that, in the event he were defrocked, he would still have a personal income.
This could prove significant, as clerical offenders of advanced age or poor health are often kept in a penitential assignment, in recognition that they might otherwise have no means of support. If McCarrick were known to be able to provide for his own living outside of Church support, it could weigh against him in any deliberation about imposing a penalty of laicization.
As a cleric and former archbishop of Washington and Newark, and former bishop of Metuchen, McCarrick currently has a right to financial support from the Church. At present, expenses at the Kansas monastery where McCarrick is living in “prayer and penance” are being met by the Archdiocese of Washington which, as the last diocese of his assignment, has an ongoing obligation to provide basic “sustenance” under canon law.
That right would cease, along with many others, if he were expelled from the clerical state – laicized – following a conviction for sexual abuse.
But sources close to the former cardinal told CNA that he never drew either a salary or a pension from any of the three dioceses he led. They said that he declined to take remuneration from his former dioceses, but that he does have a private income from savings and monthly annuities.
“While he is not without resources, they are modest, in keeping with what one might expect of a parish priest,” one source close to McCarrick told CNA.
The same source told CNA that the annuities had been privately purchased over a period of years.
Questions remain, however, about the scale and sources of McCarrick’s private income. If, as those close to him have indicated, he declined any formal remuneration from the dioceses he led as a bishop, what was the source for any savings he might have, and how did he come to purchase the annuities to give himself a private income in retirement?
One source close to McCarrick speculated that the annuities could have come from “friends or benefactors” of the archbishop before his fall from grace.
The web of formal and informal financial networks around him remains hard to untangle, but what is known gives a strong indication of his access to funds.
In 2001, McCarrick established the Archbishop’s Fund, which he continued to personally oversee during his retirement, only ceding control to Cardinal Donald Wuerl in June last year.
According to the Archdiocese of Washington, that fund was designated for McCarrick’s personal “works of charity and other miscellaneous expenses.”
McCarrick also sat on the board of numerous grant-making bodies during his time in office, at least two of which combined to donate more than $500,000 to his personal charitable fund. These included nine grants of $25,000 each from the Minnesota-based GHR Foundation designated for the “former archbishop’s fund” or the “former archbishop’s special fund,” according to tax records.
The Virginia-based Loyola Foundation made grants of $20,000 – $40,000 per year to the archbishop’s fund for at least a decade. According to the foundation, the sums were “specifically designated by Archbishop McCarrick” who as a trustee could allocate “limited discretionary grants” to qualified 501(c)(3) organizations.
While the archdiocese told CNA in August 2018 that the fund was audited annually and that “no irregularities were ever noticed,” it would not confirm the balance of the fund at the time McCarrick turned over control, or how much money had passed through the fund over the years, or where it had gone.
McCarrick was known for producing sizable donations for projects and funds with which he was associated, including the Papal Foundation, as well as individual projects in dioceses around the world. At the same time, he was also well known for his more personal acts of generosity.
In September 2018, a cardinal who formerly served as a curial official recalled McCarrick’s habit of doling out large sums, in cash, to senior officials in Rome.
“When he would visit Rome, Cardinal McCarrick was well-known for handing out envelopes of money to different bishops and cardinals around the curia to thank them for their work,” the cardinal told CNA.
“Where these ‘honoraria’ came from or what they were for, exactly, was never clear – but many accepted them anyway.”
Given that McCarrick has access to a private income, unconnected to the Church, it is unlikely that any of the three dioceses which he once led would put themselves forward to offer him additional support in the event he were laicized.
A spokesperson for the Diocese of Metuchen confirmed to CNA that McCarrick had not received a pension from the diocese but could not confirm if he drew a salary as bishop, citing diocesan files on salaries which only date back seven years.
Both the Archdiocese of Newark and the Archdiocese of Washington declined to comment on McCarrick’s private financial circumstances. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Washington referred CNA to the archbishop’s personal attorney.
If you value the news and views Catholic World Report provides, please consider donating to support our efforts. Your contribution will help us continue to make CWR available to all readers worldwide for free, without a subscription. Thank you for your generosity!