A priest who was the personal secretary of former cardinal Theodore McCarrick said he is sickened by manipulative fundraising tactics employed while McCarrick was Archbishop of Washington. The priest called McCarrick a “manipulator” and a “devourer of souls.”
“For a portion of my priesthood, I worked directly for the foremost fund-raiser in the Church – in the whole Church, the universal Church.”
“He was a master of the art, and knew every technique and tactic to its finest point. He paired with that an extraordinary, even preternatural sense of people, what they wanted and what they needed,” Monsignor K. Bartholomew Smith wrote on a blog he maintains for parishioners of St. Bernadette’s parish in Silver Spring, Maryland.
“My stomach churns at the recollection, and not only because of how successful he was at this; but also because of what he obtained by this. He received the gratitude, the affection, and the emotional dependence of untold numbers of people high and low, rich and poor, because he made himself the bestower of the approval that they craved, told them that they were good and God Himself was grateful to them, and delivered them from the authentic demands of Jesus and His Gospel.”
“This is what their giving purchased, and what his fundraising obtained. But he took more from them than just their donations, for he was a ravening manipulator of human affections, and a devourer of souls,” Bartholomew added.
The priest, who was ordained in 1998, was McCarrick’s private secretary in the early 2000s, before being appointed to serve in a similar role for Cardinal William Baum, who was then living in Rome.
Smith told his parishioners that “you would be hard pressed to find a person in our Archdiocese, Catholic or not, who did not fall for [McCarrick’s] seduction to some degree, or at some time. We all want approval; we all enjoy gratitude. He offered Divine approval and God’s own gratitude, and many were the ones who did his bidding to obtain it.”
McCarrick, Smith wrote, “was a master of convincing folks of the pernicious delusion that God Himself needed, approved, and in fact was grateful to them for the difference that they were making in the world. This, in one line, is the snake-oil song of the ecclesiastical fundraiser, and he was the all-time virtuoso chanter and enchanter.”
“Many good works were accomplished in this manner, and benefits from them still accrue to this day. But the cost, the cost in human lives and dignity, the cost to the integrity of the Faith, the cost to the fabric of the Church, is only recently become apparent to all,” Smith added.
Smith’s remarks came in the context of the annual archdiocesan appeal. He told his parishioners that because of his experience with McCarrick, “I beg your indulgence if I eschew fundraising techniques, and avoid tactics with proven records of success.”
“Instead of a fund raiser, I am charged by God to be a faith-raiser,” the priest added.
McCarrick served as Archbishop of Washington from 2000-2006, capping an ecclesiastical career in which he had also been the Archbishop of Newark, the Bishop of Metuchen, and an auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York.
In June 2018, a report emerged that McCarrick had been credibly accused of sexually abusing a minor. That report was followed by a torrent of sexual abuse, coercion, and harassment allegations against McCarrick made by priests, former seminarians, and laypeople. McCarrick was dismissed from the clerical state in February 2019.
Catholics in the U.S. are awaiting a Vatican report on McCarrick that is the result of an internal investigation into the former cardinal’s ecclesiastical career. While the report was initially expected to be released in the early weeks of 2020, Cardinal Blase Cupich told EWTN News this week that it might be released in March, but the exact date of release is still under consideration by Pope Francis.
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