by Christine Niles, M.St. (Oxon.), J.D. • ChurchMilitant.com • October 23, 2018
WASHINGTON (ChurchMilitant.com) - The attorney general for the District of Columbia announced Tuesday he's opening a criminal probe into clerical sex abuse cover-up.
Karl Racine made the announcement Tuesday at a breakfast with elected officials. It comes one day after his office set up a sex abuse hotline to report crimes committed by priests in D.C., and less than two weeks after Cdl. Donald Wuerl announced that the pope had accepted his resignation.
Wuerl has come under intense fire over the past several months ever since the 884-page Pennsylvania grand jury report revealed Wuerl took part in protecting predator priests, including paying hush money to buy the silence of a priest involved in a sadomasochistic child porn ring.
In addition, just last week multiple Pennsylvania dioceses confirmed they were under investigation by the federal government, along with the Buffalo, New York diocese.
Racine made clear his investigation will include not only archdiocesan activity but also criminal activity of non-profits within the District of Columbia's jurisdiction.
Both Wuerl and his predecessor, disgraced prelate Theodore McCarrick, are implicated in corrupt financial dealings involving the Vatican via the Papal Foundation, a Pennsylvania-based non-profit that voted to funnel $25 million to the Vatican to use toward a scandal-ridden Rome hospital investigated for embezzling nearly 1 billion euros.
McCarrick, co-founder of the Papal Foundation, voted to send the money to the Vatican, even as the Vatican was investigating him for an allegation of sex abuse of an altar boy — arguably a material conflict of interest that voids the vote. Wuerl spearheaded the move, pressuring other board members to vote in favor of sending the $25 million to Rome. The scandal caused multiple lay members to quit in protest.
The Pennsylvania attorney general's office made clear it's considering an investigation into the Papal Foundation, responding to Church Militant's query last week:
The Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section (CT&O) of the Office of Attorney General is in receipt of your email complaint regarding The Papal Foundation. Please be advised, this matter is currently under review and the office will take any action deemed appropriate.
Although the Papal Foundation is registered under Pennsylvania law, its principal actors have been domiciled in D.C., under Racine's jurisdiction.
The investigation in D.C. follows that of at least 13 state criminal probes into Church abuse and cover-up, launched after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro published his grand jury report in mid-August. The federal investigation — a first in U.S. history — is so far confined to Pennsylvania and one diocese in New York, but is believed only to be the start of a nationwide federal probe into corruption and cover-up in the Catholic Church.