Matthew O’Brien publishes a really important piece in First Things today, about the dodgy connections between Cardinal Ted McCarrick and the Papal Foundation charity. I urge anyone interested in the scandal to read this. It’s vital stuff. One of Pope Francis’s loudest lay defenders these days privately revealed to others last month that he’s afraid that l’affaire McCarrick could cause the Church to “implode.” I believe this is the kind of thing he’s talking about.
Here’s how the piece begins:
On July 28, 2018 the Vatican announced that Pope Francis had accepted Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s resignation from the College of Cardinals. This had the immediate effect of ending his nearly thirty-year relationship with the Papal Foundation, a charitable organization he helped to found, which is based in suburban Philadelphia and has an endowment of $200 million.
As an ex officio member of the board of cardinals which controls the Foundation, McCarrick advocated and voted four times to approve an extraordinary, expedited grant of $25 million to the Vatican, in order to help it bail out a scandal-plagued dermatology hospital that it controls, the Istituto Dermopatico dell’Immacolata (IDI) in Rome: first in executive session in June 2017, then at the Foundation’s annual meeting in December 2017, again in January 2018, and finally in April 2018.
During at least the latter three votes, then-Cardinal McCarrick knew that he was under a Vatican-authorized investigation, carried out by the Archdiocese of New York, for sexually molesting a boy. According to a source with first-hand knowledge of the matter, McCarrick knew by October 2017 at the latest that he was under investigation. Because the recipient of the $25 million grant was the Vatican, which was the very entity that would determine McCarrick’s fate as a result of the investigation it authorized into his conduct, McCarrick appears to have had a manifest and gross conflict of interest in considering the grant request in the best interest of the Papal Foundation. McCarrick stood to benefit personally if, by helping to secure $25 million for the Vatican, he could win leniency in how it handled his sex abuse case.
Well. It turns out that McCarrick may have committed fraud upon the organization. And more, it may be that the entire foundation, co-founded in 1988 by then-Archbishop McCarrick to raise money for the Holy Father’s personal projects, may be in a hot mess:
According to multiple independent interviews with people involved in the Papal Foundation, over its nearly three-decade period of grant making, virtually no accounting or audits were performed to confirm that individual grants reached their intended beneficiaries after annual checks were sent to the Secretariat of State. Moreover, the Foundation allegedly failed to make any systematic attempt to confirm that funds received by the intended beneficiaries were used for charitable purposes.
The apparent failure on the part of the Foundation’s controlling board of cardinals to monitor the distribution or use of grants “raises an important issue,” according to Professor Miller, “because when a corporate board knows it has a duty and apparently does nothing to carry out that duty, a court may well find that the board failed to act ‘in good faith’,” which is an important, technical requirement in corporate law. This determination would have “the result of that every board member would be personally liable,” Miller said. “Since the duty to monitor the use of the money was in the bylaws, it would be impossible for the board members to argue they were unaware of this obligation. Plus, if it is true that they did virtually nothing at all to monitor, then there’s a good argument that they all breached their duty of good faith on every donation for nearly 30 years.”
O’Brien reports that the Papal Foundation has been run in a way that makes it “remarkably vulnerable to fraud and embezzlement, and in so doing, the board appears to have contravened its own bylaws, and thus violated Pennsylvania civil law as well.”
More, about bishops:
Benestad, Bransfield, and McCarrick have been three of the most important clerical leaders of the Papal Foundation, and all face serious allegations of sex abuse. Some of these allegations were widely known for decades, but did not prevent the men from rising from one ecclesiastical preferment to the next. Did these men use the grant-making power of the Papal Foundation to curry favor and buy protection from Vatican officials? Did they enable the misappropriation of the Foundation’s charitable grants? The only way to answer these questions is with an independent investigation of the Papal Foundation, along with a forensic accounting of its past grants.
The question is whether or not state or federal investigators will get involved with the Papal Foundation to see how its money was spent. Was it a McCarrick slush fund used to buy him influence in Rome? It would be interesting to know. Read the whole thing.
I’m telling you: Ted McCarrick is the nexus of gay sex and money at the pinnacle of the Catholic Church.