Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick appears to have been a fan of handing out money to other powerful leaders in the Catholic Church. Over the years, the disgraced cardinal, who was defrocked for sexual abuse, sent checks worth more than $600,000 to clerics, including two popes, according to the Washington Post. There were more than 100 beneficiaries to McCarrick’s largesse over the years, including several who were directly involved in evaluating misconduct allegations against McCarrick.
Much of the money came from a special fund at the Archdiocese of Washington, where he was archbishop from 2001 to 2006, that allowed him to take money from wealthy donors and spend it pretty much at will without oversight from church officials. Pope John Paul II got $90,000 between 2001 and 2005 while Pope Benedict XVI received $291,000, including a $250,000 check a month after he became pope. Overall, McCarrick sent almost 200 checks to fellow clerics, including more than 60 to archbishops and cardinals.
Those who received the checks insist there was nothing improper about the money and had no effect on their decisions about McCarrick. But the money raises fresh questions considering there has always been an air of mystery around how someone who faced frequent accusations of misconduct was able to rise so high in the church and stay there for years. It seems at least some of the donors were surprised to hear where their money was going, with one saying he thought the donations would go to the needy, not to other clerics. McCarrick was able to raise more than $6 million over 17 years, including at least $450,000 from Maryanne Trump Barry, President Donald Trump’s sister and a former federal appellate judge.
McCarrick was defrocked in February after he was found guilty of soliciting sex during confession and committing “sins” with minors and adults. “I’m not as bad as they paint me,” McCarrick told Slate’s Ruth Graham earlier this year in his only public comments on the issue. “I do not believe that I did the things that they accused me of.” He also said that he believe his accusers “were encouraged” to lie. The Vatican is set to release a report in the next few months that will look into how it handled the allegations against McCarrick over the years.