Pope Francis on September 20, 2018, received in the Apostolic Palace Consistory Hall of the Vatican, the participants at the Conference of the Sons of Holy Mary Immaculate on the occasion of the 150th anniversary of the Venerable Joseph Frassinetti death, founder of the Congregation of Santa Maria Immacolata Sons.
Now read this at Crux about the hospital in Rome – called the Immaculate Dermatological Institute or IDI – run by them.
This is a story of spectacular complexity, involving this order, extremely shady people, huge amounts of money, interlocking directorates, vast loans, and the Papal Foundation.
Left with no alternatives, Pope Francis asked Wuerl to help him find a way to once again fend off the “social catastrophe” of an IDI collapse. The American cardinal forwarded the request to the Papal Foundation, a group of wealthy U.S. benefactors who gave their first grant for charitable initiatives under St. Pope John Paul II in 1990.
Among those pushing for a $25 million grant to be sent to IDI, sources within the foundation said, was also McCarrick, now at the center of a sexual abuse scandal hitting the Church’s hierarchy, and who participated in some sessions of the Papal Foundation until June 2017.
But lay foundation members were not so eager to spend that money, especially since IDI did not release any financial statement or strategy. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, the former chairman of the foundation’s audit committee, businessman James Longon, called the grant an “irresponsible and immoral stewardship of funds.”
Though ostensibly a dispute about the proper use of funds, the fight over IDI inside the Papal Foundation is also seen by many observers as a proxy battle for the larger war over Francis and his leadership of the Church. Many of the clergy supporting the hospital are also major Francis loyalists, while several of those most skeptical have their doubts about the pope on other grounds as well.
Normally the foundation offers grants for the poor in amounts that rarely exceed $300,000, and its members found themselves at odds with the Vatican’s leadership, to the extent that an audience with the pope last April had to be canceled.
Eventually the lay members capitulated to the request. In July 2017, the first $5 million was approved, followed in January by another $8 million. While these first two payments have already been sent to IDI, the remaining $12 million is still in the foundation’s account, sources within the foundation told Crux.
How those U.S. funds were used by IDI, and the reasons behind the delay of the final payment, remain shrouded in mystery.
They couldn’t run a bird cage, these people.