Disgraced cardinal gave over $600K to popes, Vatican officials: report

Disgraced cardinal gave over $600K to popes, Vatican officials: report
© Getty

Theodore McCarrick, the first Catholic cardinal to be defrocked over sexual abuse allegations, sent over $600,000 to powerful clergy in the Church over almost two decades, according to documents obtained by The Washington Post.

The payments started in 2001 and went to high-level clergy around the world, including Vatican bureaucrats, papal advisers and two popes, according to the documents and former Church officials. In total, the former cardinal gave money to over 100 officials, several of whom were closely involved in assessing misconduct claims against McCarrick, the Post reports.

McCarrick was removed from the public ministry in 2018 after decades-old allegations of sexual abuse of a 16-year-old boy came to light. 

ADVERTISEMENT

In February, McCarrick was defrocked after Vatican officials found him guilty of two charges: soliciting sex during confession and committing “sins” with minors and adults “with the aggravating factor of the abuse of power."

McCarrick's checks were paid out of a little-known account in the Archdiocese of Washington known as the “Archbishop’s Special Fund." McCarrick, 89, began serving as D.C.'s archbishop in 2001.

McCarrick's fund took in over $6 million over 17 years, documents show. Millions went to legitimate Catholic charities around the world, yet more than 200 checks went to various Church leaders.

Pope John Paul II was reportedly sent $90,000 from 2001 to 2005. McCarrick gave Pope Benedict XVI $291,000. Two hundred fifty thousand dollars of that came from a single check in May 2005, just a month after Benedict was chosen to succeed the late John Paul, the Post says.

Representatives of both former popes either declined to comment or said that they didn't have any information regarding the referenced checks. 

Experts have told the Post that money could have been directed to papal charities.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Vatican spokesman also declined to comment and an attorney for McCarrick didn't respond to the Post's request for comment.

The disclosures are raising new questions about how the Vatican handled allegations against the powerful cardinal and how McCarrick rose through the Church's ranks despite allegations of his misconduct making it to the Vatican as early as 2000.

Church officials told the Post that a report detailing its handling of the allegations against McCarrick will be released in the coming months.