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

The amount was more than double that given to the formation of priests in the same year, which totaled $1,000,481.
Thu Mar 4, 2021 - 4:54 pm EST
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Cardinal Donald Wuerl Patrick Craine / LifeSiteNews

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WASHINGTON, March 4, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — Financial records from the Archdiocese of Washington have revealed that disgraced the former Archbishop of Washington, Cardinal Donald Wuerl, received over $2 million last year for “continuing ministry activities” in his retirement.

The Pillar first reported how Wuerl had received $2,012,639 for what was described as “continuing ministry activities” during the fiscal year 2020. The figure had risen from the previous year, which saw $1,488,059 channelled to the “Archbishop Emeritus.”

Wuerl’s money was allotted to him by the “Central Pastoral Administration,” drawing from the net assets which were unencumbered with any donor restrictions.

The amount was more than double that given to the formation of priests in the same year, which totaled $1,000,481. In 2019 Wuerl’s allowance had similarly outdone the priestly formation fund.

Notably, “Archdiocesan charitable giving” dropped significantly from $651,136 in 2019 to $401,136 in 2020.

To put Wuerl’s $2 million into further contrast with other 2020 expenditures: $3,820,594 was spent on “priests’ retirement benefits and medical care”; $2,364,396 was given in “compensation of clergy and religious”; $3,540,140 was spent on clergy “benefits.” Data from 2019 lists over 280 diocesan priests, 460 religious priests, and 143 extern priests present in the archdiocese, without counting the permanent deacons, or religious brothers and sisters.

In any case, the large amount does not appear to be out of the norm for Wuerl’s lifestyle. In 2015, 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.”

Neumayr noted how the building was shared with “a nest of Marxists, socialists, and liberals,” observing the similarities between Wuerl and his neighbors: “Like a pampered member of the Red nomenklatura, Wuerl awaits that glorious day when all classes are abolished except his own, the elite of the global Left into whose service he has devoted his decadent, heterodox, and baldly hypocritical episcopacy.”

Wuerl, now 80 years old, was made cardinal in 2010 by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He had been made archbishop of Washington in 2006, a post he held until October 2018, succeeding ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick. Prior to that, he was bishop of Pittsburgh from 1988 until 2006.

Why such a large sum of money?

With the revelation of the archdiocesan finances, questions are being raised about why Wuerl is receiving such a large sum of money every year, with some suggesting that he knows information which requires a substantial pay-out. The question is not without precedent.

When Wuerl disappeared for a time from the public eye in 2018, reports suggested that he had gone into hiding for fear of investigation from the U.S. Department of Justice, and that Pope Francis was worried lest Wuerl would reveal secrets if he were caught.

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.

The report also revealed tactics which had been previously used in diocesan files, in order to conceal the truth about abuser clerics, encouraging secretive and underhand tactics, and advising that “even if a priest is raping children, keep providing him housing and living expenses, although he may be using these resources to facilitate more sexual assaults.”

Also in the summer of 2018, former papal nuncio to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, accused Wuerl of lying by saying he had no knowledge of ex-cardinal McCarrick’s abuse of seminarians. Viganò commented that in the U.S., Wuerl would have been “the first to have been informed” of 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.”

Upon Wuerl’s subsequent denial of knowing about McCarrick’s history of abuse, Vigano stated that the cardinal “lies shamelessly,” adding that Wuerl disobeyed a Papal order, and allowed McCarrick to “reside at a seminary in Washington D.C. In doing so, he put other seminarians at risk.”

When the long awaited McCarrick report emerged last autumn, copious evidence was presented revealing that Wuerl was indeed well aware of McCarrick’s history and the scandal surrounding the ex-prelate.

Archdiocese of Washington’s response

LifeSiteNews contacted the Archdiocese of Washington for a comment about the revelation of Wuerl’s finances, and was pointed to a newly released statement, which attempted to allay any concerns.

“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.”

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However, this explanation leaves much unanswered. It presents the image of a one-time sum given to Wuerl, made from many donations given over time, when in reality Wuerl appears to regularly receive millions, having received nearly $1.5 million for the 2019 fiscal year, and then $2 million in the next.

An increase of over $500,000 in money set aside for Wuerl in 2020, would also seem to indicate that funds were not finding their way back to the “general purposes of the Archdiocese.”

Washington — the seat of the favored clerics

Such revelations, still unexplained, about such large sums of money going to a retired cardinal supposedly living a quiet life, are indicative of the pattern of favorable behavior, which is consistently shown towards the archbishops of Washington, hinting at the extreme power they wield and enjoy.

Notably, Wuerl’s predecessor McCarrick received papal protection from Pope Francis, despite his history of abuse and inappropriate behavior, as exposed by Archbishop Viganò.

Cardinal Wilton Gregory, Wuerl’s successor, was appointed to the archdiocese, raised to the cardinalate, and then retained in the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life by Pope Francis. Such constant benevolence towards Gregory from Francis came despite Gregory’s history of a pro-LGBT stance, and a long history of opposing traditional Catholic moral teaching.

Wuerl himself has received signal favor from Francis. Despite handing his resignation in to the Pope in 2015, Francis did not accept it until 2018. When revelations were emerging about Wuerl’s time in Pittsburgh, Francis sent a warm letter, saying Wuerl had “the heart of a shepherd.”

Referring to Wuerl’s time in Pittsburgh, Francis wrote: “You have sufficient elements to ‘justify’ your actions and distinguish what it means to cover up crimes or not to deal with problems, and to commit some mistakes. However, your nobility has led you not to choose this way of defense. Of this I am proud and thank you.”


  archdiocese of washington, donald wuerl

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