Bad Optics

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by Stephen Wynne  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  November 29, 2018   

Bishops misspending your money

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The U.S. bishops' meeting in Baltimore earlier this month cost the American laity dearly.

Church Militant estimates that in total, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' (USCCB) Fall 2018 General Assembly cost upwards of $1 million or more.

Instead of choosing to meet at a Church-owned property, USCCB planners chose the four-star Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel for the gathering.

On Thursday, the apostolate contacted the hotel to learn more about its pricing structure. 


Church Militant learned that 250 rooms (for four nights) plus meeting spaces (for three days) plus catered food cost $420,000.

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The Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel

But the number of bishops and their entourage was closer to 350 than 250. Extrapolating the figure above produces a figure of $588,000.  

The bishops spend thousands of dollars for extra hotel security, as well as a supplemental Baltimore police presence — all to protect themselves against their own flocks.

Add to this travel expenses, food and drink and any ancillary expenses, and the final sum could easily surpass $1 million.

Observers have expressed amazement at not just the bishops' ostentatious consumption, but the nonchalance with which they engage in it. 

Even after the "Summer of Shame," with the U.S. Church at a historic low point, the majority of America's bishops seem oblivious to the offense their self-indulgent, free-spending ways causes among the laity.

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Baltimore Marriott Waterfront hotel lobby

In Baltimore, they demonstrated no sensitivity to their public image. Instead of donning "ashes and sackcloth," their pomp and privilege was on full display.

Even as they refused to hold themselves accountable for fostering the clerical sex abuse crisis — voting down a resolution asking the Vatican for clarity on the case of serial sexual predator ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick — each night, many were chauffeured in top-of-the-line SUVs to wine and dine at some of Baltimore's most exclusive (and expensive) restaurants.

The optics looked very bad indeed.

And in a few months, these same shepherds will be shelling out another million at their Spring 2019 General Assembly.

Watch the panel discuss bishops' lavish spending in The Download—Bad Optics.

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