WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - Thirteen months after Theodore McCarrick was outed as a serial homosexual predator, the archdiocese of Washington is failing its pledges of transparency — refusing to shed light on the former cardinal's murky financial dealings.
As McCarrick strengthened his grip on power inside the U.S. Catholic Church, he developed a reputation for lavishing top-ranking Vatican officials with cash and other gifts during frequent trips to Rome, including funneling hundreds of thousands of dollars to Church leaders through the Archbishop's Fund, a D.C. endowment set up in 2001.
On Friday, CNA journalist Ed Condon reported that Washington officials are refusing to provide details of McCarrick's personal "dollar diplomacy" and his efforts to win influence in Rome.
Condon recounted that in the wake of a Vatican report detailing financial corruption involving former Wheeling-Charleston Bp. Michael Bransfield — a McCarrick protégé — CNA contacted the Washington archdiocese to ask officials whether they will go public with the names of Church leaders personally gifted through the Archbishop's Fund.
"On July 10 the archdiocese declined to comment in response," Condon reported.
Officials were also asked whether Archbishop's Fund data had been included as part of a Vatican investigation into McCarrick.
"The archdiocese declined to comment," Condon wrote.
Additionally, archdiocesan authorities were asked to comment on allegations of financial impropriety involving McCarrick and on whether Washington Abp. Wilton Gregory was willing to shed light on the situation.
"The archdiocese again declined to comment," Condon added.
The chancery's refusal to answer these questions is reinforcing concerns that archdiocesan pledges of commitment to transparency — including those of newly-installed Abp. Gregory — are empty.
At an April 4 press conference, Gregory was asked about how he would restore trust after the scandals of his predecessors, Cdl. Donald Wuerl and McCarrick.
"I believe that the only way I can serve this local archdiocese is by telling you the truth. And sometimes telling you the truth has to acknowledge 'I don't know,'" Gregory told reporters. "Transparency includes sharing what you do know, but it also acknowledges that 'that's not something that I'm sure of' or 'I simply don't know.' I will always tell you the truth as I understand it."
Continuing, Gregory claimed that as president of the U.S. bishops' conference from 2001–2004, he disclosed all information relating to all clerical sex abuse and cover-up to which he was privy, declaring: "I walked away from my time as president knowing this one thing: that I told them the truth as best as I knew it. And that's what I will do for the archdiocese of Washington."
So far, Gregory has responded to McCarrick-related inquiries with silence.
Father John Lavers, who led the 2012 investigation into unethical and immoral activities at Connecticut's Holy Apostles Seminary and various dioceses, has slammed the investigation into McCarrick's misdeeds as a sham.
In a July 10 article for Church Militant — published the same day that the D.C. archdiocese refused to answer CNA's questions — Fr. Lavers reflected on the silence surrounding McCarrick's finances:
Like many other predatory priests in the past, such men had access to large sums of money, and McCarrick is no different. So who is conducting the financial audit and analysis of McCarrick's holdings? Who is conducting the all-important financial investigation into his activities? Who is examining the people who gave McCarrick large amounts of money and why? As well, who has McCarrick given money to and why? Does McCarrick still control or have access to these large sums of money ... and, if so, what is he doing with it?
Father Lavers also noted that beyond questions of financial impropriety, McCarrick's history of sexual abuse — and those who enabled it by their silence — remains almost entirely in the shadows.
"Who is (or was) leading the internal investigation against McCarrick within the archdiocese?" he asked. "What is the current status of the investigation? Has the investigation against McCarrick been closed? And if so, why?"
"Why have primary (and still living) victims and witnesses of McCarrick's abuse not been interviewed by so-called 'Church investigators'?" Fr. Lavers continued. "[H]as McCarrick's computer, cell phone and tablet, along with all of his emails, been examined? And if not, why not?"
"Who is gathering McCarrick's written correspondence?" he asked, adding:
The Church, even in the modern world, has an extensive paper trail on file that is properly recorded within diocesan offices, including the Office for the Papal Nuncio to the United States, the Congregation for Bishops and the Secretary of State in Rome. Within the United States alone, there should be at the very least active and ongoing McCarrick investigations taking place within the archdiocese of New York, the archdiocese of Washington, the archdiocese of Newark, as well as the whole of the ecclesiastical province of Newark.
"But there is not," Fr. Lavers noted, "and why not?"