Featured Image
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, in a 2018 videoYouTube

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — The retired archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, has received over $4 million from the archdiocese for his “continuing ministry activities” since 2020. 

According to financial records published by the Archdiocese of Washington, Wuerl has continued to receive substantial payments from the archdiocese ever since he retired from leadership of the diocese. 

Outlining the distribution of funds received from donors, which came “without donor restrictions,” the Archdiocese of Washington’s “Central Pastoral Administration” recorded the following figures for the “Continuing ministry activities for Archbishop Emeritus”:

Wuerl succeeded ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick in holding the see from June 2006 until October 2018, retiring three years after he submitted his mandatory resignation letter aged 75. Prior to that, he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006. He continued as apostolic administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington until then-Archbishop Wilton Gregory assumed the see in May 2019. 

With 2020 being the first full year of his retirement, Wuerl has thus amassed $4,295,915 from 2020 through 2023 inclusive. 

According to 2022 guidelines issued by the USCCB, a retired bishop is to be given “a minimum of $1,900.00 per month, to be adjusted annually according to the local cost of living index.” The USCCB note adds that it is “recommended that in fraternal charity and solicitude” a retired bishop is to receive “appropriate housing and board,” health and welfare benefits, a secretary, a car, and motor insurance.

In 2015, the late Catholic journalist George Neumayr of The American Spectator discovered that Wuerl was living in a penthouse in Embassy Row, in Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish. The complex itself was valued at nearly $43 million in 2016. Neumayr commented that “in these supposed days of modesty under Francis, he [Wuerl] remains the prince of Embassy Row.”

Wuerl’s current address is not precisely given, though he is listed by the Holy See’s directory as residing in Washington’s Brookland district. 

This reporter inquired with the Archdiocese of Washington this week, to see what pastoral activity Wuerl was tasked with and if he had anything regular. The archdiocese was also asked what was accounted for in the annual stipend Wuerl receives. No answer was received by time of publication.

It is not entirely clear what kind of appointment schedule or ministry activities Wuerl keeps in his retirement. In April 2023, he attended the Chrism Mass offered by Cardinal Gregory. He was also in attendance at the U.S. Nunciature this March, when papal nuncio Cardinal Christophe Pierre hosted an anniversary party to mark Pope Francis’ 11 years on the papal throne. 

READ: George Neumayr: Cdl Wuerl is even now covering up for a priest who abused teen in hot tub

When asked by this reporter about Wuerl’s ministry and if he was actively involved with the U.S. Nunciature, Pierre replied simply: “Cardinal Wuerl is the retired (emeritus) archbishop of Washington. He lives in Washington.”

Cardinal Wuerl himself was also asked by this reporter what was the aim of the money he received, but no answer was received by time of publication.

No photo description available.
Cdl. Wuerl (far right) at the Washington 2023 Chrism Mass

In March 2021 there was a media scrutiny of Wuerl’s finances after attention was paid to the substantial sums the retired cardinal had received from the Archdiocese in 2020.

READ: Retired, disgraced Cardinal Wuerl received over $2 million last year from Washington Archdiocese  

At the time, the Washington archdiocesan communications team released a statement saying that “the funds in our Continuing Ministry Activities account are donations made by persons who want to cover Cardinal Wuerl’s expenses and ministerial needs, including living expenses, prior travel for business in Rome, as well as for charitable requests asked of the archbishop emeritus,” the statement read.

Continuing, the archdiocese stated that the funds “accumulated over time” and were given by donors who “did not want to have the Archdiocese burdened with these expenses.” The remaining proceeds would be “used to support the general purposes of the Archdiocese.”

The statement presented a discrepancy between the financial records that stated that the money given to Wuerl had no donor restrictions on it, while the archdiocese’s 2021 statement suggested that Wuerl’s money was given specifically for the cardinal. 

Later in 2021, Wuerl reportedly gave his $2 million income to charities and gave $500,000 of his 2019 income to fund programs helping survivors of abuse. The news was reported via The Pillar, who cited archdiocesan officials and senior priests, though no public or official comment was made on the matter.

Wuerl’s controversial record

Wuerl’s eventual resignation from Washington in 2018 was accompanied by a number of allegations that he had mishandled and covered up instances of criminal sexual abuse by priests while he was bishop of Pittsburgh. In an extensive and sweeping grand jury report on criminal sexual abuse released in August 2018, Wuerl was mentioned some 200 times.

The report found 301 Pennsylvania priests were found to have abused more than 1,000 children, and Wuerl was accused of knowing about predatory priests and moving them to different dioceses. While he corresponded with the Vatican concerning the liability these priests created for the Church, Wuerl also kept their actions concealed from parishioners.

As controversy was erupting around Wuerl’s record in Pittsburgh, Pope Francis sent a warm letter marking the cardinal’s resignation, saying Wuerl had “the heart of a shepherd.”

Also in the summer of 2018, former U.S. papal nuncio Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò accused Wuerl of lying by saying he had no knowledge of ex-cardinal McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians. Archbishop Viganò commented that in the U.S., Wuerl would have been “the first to have been informed” of Pope Benedict XVI’s censure of McCarrick, and the nuncio added that he himself spoke with Wuerl about the issue, only to find that “it was immediately clear to me that he was fully aware of it.”

Wuerl denied any knowledge about McCarrick’s actions or the restrictions imposed on McCarrick by the Vatican, prompting Archbishop Viganò to say Wuerl “lies shamelessly.”

But subsequent reports even in the secular media highlighted that Wuerl had already been aware of allegations of sexual misconduct by McCarrick in 2004 and that he was also aware of the travel restrictions on the disgraced cardinal.

When the much-anticipated McCarrick report was released by the Vatican in 2020, significant documentation was provided, showing that Wuerl was aware of both the alleged abuse perpetrated by McCarrick and the restrictions placed upon him. 

This reporter asked Wuerl via email if he had any further comment on his knowledge of McCarrick’s alleged abuse and the sanctions on him, but did not receive a reply.