Senator Everett Dirksen, the Illinois Republican who was responsible for writing and passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act (while racist Democrats were busy filibustering it), has a famous quote attributed to him. He never actually said it, at least not directly, but a New York Times reporter apparently misquoted him, and Dirsken liked it so much, he never corrected the record.
The misquote is, "A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon you're talking about real money." This, naturally, brings us to the topic of the U.S. bishops and money. Yep, a billion here, a billion there. What many Catholics don't realize is just how large the stockpiles of wealth are that the bishops are sitting on. Moreover, the bishops like you being in the dark — it's why so few ever release their financials.
And those who do almost never release the full financials. As the bishop of a given diocese, a bishop sits atop all the financial holdings and interests and uses them however he sees fit, which is more than a little scary. When moral men and competent men are in charge, there's little to be concerned about. But when immoral men are thieves or have something to hide or are sociopaths or are just plain incompetent — and they have the checkbook — watch out.
So let's consider the bishops' bank accounts, shall we? First, there is the actual cash flow. They tax the parish collection basket. Depending on what diocese you are in, that tax ranges from 5–15%. That money is used to pay the expenses of salaries and so forth. But it is not the only source of revenue.
Each year or every other year, almost every bishop runs an annual campaign, which is a single separate income stream with a sizable number in the many millions, sometimes hundreds of millions, attached.
Then there is investment income. This normally comes from the diocesan endowment, and that figure is very closely guarded — so much, in fact, that the normal Catholic in the pew doesn't even know the endowment exists, much less how many hundreds of millions are squirreled away in it. Collectively, the older established archdioceses around the country have billions and billions stashed in these funds, and they never let on about them.
Los Angeles, for example, has three-quarters of a billion alone. Detroit has one-third of a billion. New York, which owns enormous amounts of land under the buildings in Manhattan, collects a sizable amount of rent from those tenants. As a side note, that is exactly how Cdl. Dolan financed his victims' compensation fund. He took out a $100 million line of credit on a Madison Avenue property behind St. Patrick's Cathedral. Church Militant has also been told that the New York archdiocese collects rent each year from its ownership of the land under Yankee Stadium.
Nothing big in New York is poor, including the Church, which was given all this land by generous Catholics for the propagation of the Faith.
The interest that is yielded from these endowment funds just pops up as a multimillion-dollar line item on the annual financials. But remember, the actual accounts themselves that are yielding that interest have hundreds of millions of dollars in them. Then, of course, comes the ever-increasing income from the sale of church property.
And in another area of some shady goings-on, as a bishop starts to compile his "hit list" of parishes to close and eventually sell, it isn't always about which ones have poor attendance and shrinking enrollments. Older parishes, like dioceses, often have their own endowments with now long-dead parishioners having donated various sums, again for the propagation of the Faith.
Over the decades, those accounts have also ballooned, often to their own sizable sums. They are attached to the parish, but when a bishop shuts down a parish, those endowments come under his control and go into his diocesan coffers in total violation of the intended wishes of those who left the funds to the parish.
So naturally, when a greedy bishop is surveying which parishes to shut down or merge and so forth, one of the layers of consideration is about which parishes have large endowments that he can grab. Also, the question of how much money he can get for the real estate is also a factor, as in the case of Dolan when he was shopping around Our Savior parish on Park Avenue. Dolan got dollar signs in his eyes when the figure of $70 million came back from an appraisal.
So he moved in a priest to try and ruin the popular parish to give him an excuse to say it was poorly attended and therefore he had no choice but to sell it. Although these large dioceses have eye-popping numbers attached to them, the same governing principle applies to nearly every diocese in the country. Some have enormous bank accounts, others gigantic endowments, others large real estate holdings. Sometimes, it's a combination of all three.
But what Catholics really need to be aware of and really consider is not so much the assets and income noted on the financial statements they never see, but the expense side of things — in particular, a line item the bishops never want you thinking about. It's not the payout for homosexual-clergy sex abuse to consider, it's the bishops' legal fees. In just these payouts ($4 billion to date), think about the vast sums that have ended up in attorneys' pockets.
First, there are notable attorneys like Jeff Anderson and Mitchell Garabedian, who have gotten rich off the crimes of homosexual molesters with collars and miters. Estimates from within the legal community put Mitchell Garabedian's haul from the Church at around $600 million, and Jeff Anderson is not far behind in that amount.
Just those two men together have pocketed more than an estimated $1 billion transferred to them from the Church's treasury. No one is saying they stole it or anything of the sort. What we are saying is that Catholics need to wake up to what is happening to the patrimony of the Church at the hands of crooked, immoral, incompetent men.
And those are outside attorneys. The in-house counsel is also charging huge sums that the bishops are paying as well. But here's the point: None of this is an individual bishop's personal money. It's just something that he controls, but it's not his. So why does he care if he has to pay a few million here and a few million there? It's not his. He doesn't go back to his rectory at night wondering how he's going to make the mortgage payment, pay for health insurance or buy groceries this week. Losing his job for mismanagement and horrible decisions never enters his mind.
Give a sociopath a bottomless checkbook and it's not going to end well. When a bishop goes after a good priest and sidelines him, that costs money when the priest decides to defend himself in canon law court. The priest has to pay his own fare. But the bishop? He just reaches into the pile of cash he has sitting over there that came to him from the generosity of dead Catholics who intended it to be used to pass on the Faith.
So a man like Cupich, for example, can just keep spending left and right to financially ruin good priests, bankrupting them in a war he's likely to win every time. In fact, many good priests don't even pursue resolution when they see the price tag that justice in the Church often comes with, which is almost always in the six-figure range.
So about that pile of money? Bishops use it to cover their own legal expenses, which are often due to their own immoral actions. They also use it to go after good priests and beat them up. They steal it from the patrimonial desires of those who left it to the Church. And they transfer billions of dollars into the pockets of attorneys who are getting rich from it all (but, out of necessity, also trying to get something for the victims of the homosexual rape of countless altar boys, seminarians and even other clergy).
They lie to the sheep by not telling them what they have in the bank. And they spend it however they want because, well, they can. After all, it's not their money.
Yes, a billion here, a billion there. Pretty soon, you're talking about real money.