Scrutiny continues for the U.S.-based Papal Foundation, amid questions of whether some of its grant activity was motivated by a desire to secure leniency for disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
The ongoing controversy surrounds the foundation’s decision to make an unprecedented grant to a leading Italian hospital whose former leadership had faced accusations of massive embezzlement and financial misconduct.
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the outgoing Archbishop of Washington, made “false and misleading” statements about the grantee to the foundation board, said Matthew B. O’Brien, a Philadelphia-based writer, in an April 12 essay for First Things. O’Brien cited several people involved with the Papal Foundation who spoke on background and provided copies of foundation meeting minutes and legal reviews.
“He painted a picture of a hospital that was experiencing momentary cash-flow problems, but was otherwise sound,” O’Brien charged. “Wuerl’s actions are especially questionable in light of what he knew at the time about then-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s interest in securing the grant.”
“Wuerl was aware that McCarrick stood to win leniency in his sex abuse case if the Papal Foundation secured $25 million for the Vatican’s Secretary of State,” said O’Brien.
Mark Corallo, a spokesman for the Papal Foundation, challenged this interpretation. His statement, quoted in O’Brien’s essay, said there were “a variety of interpretations” of the financial condition of the grantee and its sponsoring entities.
“Clearly there were different readings of available information, but it is not correct to characterize the presentation of Cardinal Wuerl or other participants at the Board meeting as false or misleading,” Corallo said.
RELATED POST: How Cardinal Wuerl Misled the Papal Foundation
Since 1990, the foundation has given over $100 million to support projects and proposals recommended by the Holy See. American cardinals are ex officio leaders of the foundation, though it has a significant number of lay board members. Grants are made for needs that are particularly significant to the pope, and often go to institutions and organizations in developing nations. The grants typically do not exceed $200,000 each.
The foundation’s approval of a $25 million grant to a financially and legally troubled Italian hospital became a major controversy among board members who argued the grant was approved without due diligence. This controversy drew media coverage in early 2018.
Read more at First Things