WASHINGTON, D.C. – Former cardinal Theodore McCarrick’s roles included service on the boards of at least two foundations that gave over $500,000 combined to his personally overseen fund at the Archdiocese of Washington over a decade’s time.
While the archdiocese says no irregularities have been found, CNA’s examination of tax records provides more insight into the archbishop’s areas of influence.
“Archbishop McCarrick established the ‘Archbishop’s Fund’ in January 2001 for his works of charity and other miscellaneous expenses and it continued in his retirement,” the Archdiocese of Washington told CNA.
“The account was audited annually along with other archdiocesan accounts. Nothing irregular was ever noticed,” the archdiocese continued. “When the allegation of sexual abuse of a minor was first disclosed in June, Archbishop McCarrick consigned the fund to the Archdiocese of Washington and the money will be used for archdiocesan charitable purposes.”
The archdiocese did not respond to questions about how much money had passed through the fund, nor specifically identify what charities or expenses it had supported.
In June, Pope Francis removed the 88-year-old churchman from ministry after an allegation he sexually abused a minor almost 50 years ago was ruled credible. In late July he resigned from the College of Cardinals, and the pope ordered him to adopt a life of prayer and penance pending a canonical process. Other allegations of sexual abuse and coercion have since been raised, and have brought to the public eye past legal settlements involving alleged misconduct while head of two New Jersey dioceses.
After he was removed from ministry, the archbishop said he has no memory of the abuse, believes in his innocence, and is sorry for the pain of his accuser and for any scandal the charges cause to others. McCarrick served as Archbishop of Washington from 2001 to 2006, but the archdiocese said it has received no allegation of misconduct against him.
Two Catholic-focused foundations have now cut ties with McCarrick: the Virginia-based Loyola Foundation, which generally makes grants for overseas Catholic mission activity; and the Minnesota-based GHR Foundation, whose focuses of global development, health and education include inter-religious action, strengthening Catholic women’s religious communities, and urban Catholic schools.
McCarrick sat on the Loyola Foundation’s board for more than two decades. It gave $20,000 to $40,000 per year to the archbishop’s fund for at least 10 years, starting in the foundation’s fiscal year 2006 to 2007. The grants totaled at least $310,000, according to a CNA review of tax documents.
“Grants specifically designated by Archbishop McCarrick were made to the Archdiocese of Washington, a recognized 501(c)(3),” the foundation’s executive director Greg McCarthy told CNA. “The Loyola Foundation has no evidence of any unethical behavior, or any undisclosed conflict of interest in his role as board member.”
Trustees may make “limited discretionary grants” to qualified 501(c)(3) charities, and foundation policy requires all grants to comply with IRS requirements, he explained.
“The Loyola Foundation would have no reason to question grants made to the Archdiocese of Washington, a major diocese in our country,” McCarthy added. “Our expectation is that the archdiocese accepted such grants and exercised appropriate oversight so that spending was within archdiocesan moral, legal and ethical bounds.”
The foundation’s publicly available tax documents include grant application guidelines which say its average grant is about $10,000.
The Minnesota-based GHR Foundation made nine grants of $25,000 each, totaling $225,000, earmarked for the “former archbishop’s fund” or the “former archbishop’s special fund,” from 2006 to 2014, tax records say.
McCarrick sat on the foundation board of directors from 2006 until 2016. Since then he has served as director emeritus, which a spokesman characterized as “only an honorary role.”
The GHR Foundation spokesperson said McCarrick was not active in his final years as a board member nor as a director emeritus.
“We are reviewing any type of actions while he was a board member,” he said. “We are taking this very seriously and are conducting a review.” The foundation said it would share information “if we find anything that we feel is not what was intended for GHR funds.”
The foundation has given several other five-figure grants to the Washington archdiocese, plus a 2008 grant of $400,000 to the Archdiocesan Missionary Seminary of Washington as a one-time grant “honoring Cardinal Theodore McCarrick.”
Beginning in 2007, the GHR Foundation gave $1 million a year for seven years to the Papal Foundation, which McCarrick had co-founded in 1988. The Papal Foundation supports projects and proposals recommended by the Holy See.
The GHR spokesman could not address questions about foundation grants to the former archbishop’s special fund but said the foundation is looking into the matter.
“We just want to make sure that the funds were used in a way that intended to support our values,” he said.
The spokesman said that to his understanding McCarrick’s role as a leader in interreligious dialogue fit well with the foundation’s inter-religious activities, adding “he is a leader in Christian-Muslim relations.”
CNA contacted McCarrick’s civil lawyer Barry Coburn, who said he had “no comment at this time.”
Both the Loyola and GHR foundations said they have removed the former cardinal from any role.
After the Holy See asked McCarrick to cease all public ministry, the Loyola Foundation released McCarrick from his board duties in a July letter, said McCarthy, the foundation’s executive director.
“He is no longer a board member and serves in no other capacity. No one has replaced him,” McCarthy said. “Our foundation encourages a full, complete and transparent review of all the allegations made against Archbishop McCarrick, with legal follow up within both civil and canon law, if appropriate.”
The GHR Foundation spokesman told CNA that when the first allegations came out “we immediately suspended him.”
“Obviously we were shocked and saddened. This was news to us,” the spokesman added. “Then as additional allegations came out we acted promptly and removed him from his honorary role. We have severed all ties to former Cardinal McCarrick.”
Like many Church and civic leaders who had worked with McCarrick, McCarthy too said the Loyola Foundation did not know of abuse incidents.
“As a Catholic entity focused on the needy, our energies are spent on trying to help our brothers and sisters in Christ,” McCarthy said. “No one on our staff or on the board was even remotely aware of the incidents reported. May God help any who may have been wronged.”
The GHR Foundation was launched in 1965 by Gerald and Henrietta Rauenhorst, founders of the architecture design and construction companies that would become known as the Opus Group. In 2016, the foundation website says, it gave over $20.7 million in grants to 100 organizations around the world.
It has been a major donor to Catholic Relief Services, on whose board McCarrick once served. It has given large grants to religious sisters and groups like the Leadership Conference of Women Religious and the Council of Major Superiors of Women Religious.
The foundation supports urban Catholic schools in Minneapolis-St. Paul; other efforts in the Minneapolis-St. Paul archdiocese; and Catholic universities like Marquette University, St. Catherine University and the University of St. Thomas, where the foundation’s founders earned their degrees.
The GHR Foundation’s CEO and chair, Amy Rauenhorst Goldman, has served as a consultant on trade negotiations and investment strategies. She is a trustee and vice-chair of the board of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul and a member of the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service Board of Visitors.
The foundation board is composed of members of the Rauenhorst family and others such as Sister Carol Keehan, president and CEO of the Catholic Health Association.
The Loyola Foundation was established in 1957 by Albert G. McCarthy, Jr. and his wife Kathleen to assist mission work in developing countries. Its 2015-2016 biennial report said it gave out over $1.6 million in grants in 2016.
Foundation leadership includes members of the McCarthy family as well as other leading Catholics. One long-serving board member is Father William J. Byron, S.J., past president of both University of Scranton and Catholic University of America. He also served as rector of the Georgetown Jesuit Community, pastor of Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Washington, D.C. and an interim president of Loyola University New Orleans.
McCarrick’s own career included time as a university leader and service on diplomatic missions and advisory roles for both the U.S. State Department and the Holy See. He has served on pontifical councils for Promoting Christian Unity, Justice and Peace, Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples and for Latin America. Similarly, he served in the office of the Administration of the Patrimony of the Holy See.
He chaired U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ committees on Domestic Policy, International Policy, Migration, and Aid to the Church in Central and Eastern Europe.