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Archdiocese of Washington silent on $2 million given to retired cardinal for ‘ministry activities’

Mary Margaret Olohan, DCNF

  • The Archdiocese of Washington is remaining silent on $2 million given to retired Cardinal Donald Wuerl for “ministry activities.”
  • The 80-year-old cardinal resigned from his position in October 2018 after evidence of complicity in sexual abuse cover-ups in Pennsylvania.
  • The Daily Caller News Foundation repeatedly asked the Archdiocese of Washington to comment on why Wuerl was allocated this increased sum, and what the retired cardinal has used the money for. The Archdiocese of Washington has not returned the DCNF’s requests for comment.

The Archdiocese of Washington is remaining silent on $2 million given to retired Cardinal Donald Wuerl for “ministry activities.”

The 80-year-old cardinal resigned from his position in October 2018 after evidence of complicity in sexual abuse cover-ups in Pennsylvania. But the cardinal has continued to receive large sums of money from the Archdiocese of Washington, The Pillar reported Wednesday.

The archdiocese allotted $2,012,639 to the “continuing ministry activities for [the] Archbishop Emeritus” during the 2020 fiscal year, according to the archdiocese’s financial records — a 35% increase from the $1,488,059 sum that was allocated to Wuerl in the 2019 fiscal year report.

These funds were allocated from “net assets without donor restrictions,” meaning that the money was not specifically given to the archdiocese for Wuerl, the Pillar noted. 2020 was the first year that Wuerl was entirely retired from his work with the diocese, the publication reported, since he served as apostolic administrator until Archbishop Wilton Gregory was installed in May 2019.

The Daily Caller News Foundation repeatedly asked the Archdiocese of Washington to comment on why Wuerl was allocated this increased sum, and what the retired cardinal has used the money for. The Archdiocese of Washington has not returned the DCNF’s requests for comment.

Though Wurel was allocated over $2 million, the financial statement shows there was a 30% drop in funds that the archdiocese allocated for “Archdiocesan charitable giving” in the 2020 fiscal year as well as a drop in the amount allocated to “formation of priests.”

This sum allocated for “Archdiocesan charitable giving” decreased from $651,136 in 2019 to $401,136 in 2020, and the “formation of priests” sum declined from $1,102,500 in 2019 to $1,000,481 in 2020.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has suggested that bishops in retirement be given a stipend of $1,650 per month.  The guidance also notes that the diocese should provide the Bishop Emeritus with housing and board, health and welfare benefits, an office with secretarial assistance, a suitable funeral and burial, travel expenses, and the use of a car.

The USCCB did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s requests for comment. Wuerl could not be reached for comment.

Sources reportedly told the Pillar that the cardinal has recently offered at least one retreat to a group of bishops.

The archdiocese’s allocation of funds to Wuerl bears similarities to the financial arrangements made for disgraced former archbishop Theodore McCarrick by the Archdiocese of Washington, according to the Pillar. McCarrick set up “The Archbishop’s Fund” when he became Archbishop of Washington in 2001 and retained control over this fund after he retired, the publication reported.

McCarrick reportedly used money from the fund to give senior Vatican officials gifts and to contribute to a sexual abuse settlement, according to the Pillar. After allegations against McCarrick were made public in 2018, he had to give the archdiocese control over the fund.

Washington’s new Archbishop Wilton Gregory has failed to make a number of documents and financial records related to McCarrick available to the public, despite his promise to “always tell you the truth,” according to the Pillar.

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Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.

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