March 29, 2019
By Robert Herguth
For years, the Catholic Church in Chicago has said it enlists two revenue sources to pay for settlements and other costs related to priest sex abuse cases: loans and the sale of property.
But a Chicago Sun-Times examination found the church has been using money from its cemetery system to help pay down nagging debt related to sex misconduct — which at last count was more than $200 million — without telling the public.
A source with knowledge of the operations of the Archdiocese of Chicago, the arm of the church for Cook and Lake counties overseen by Cardinal Blase Cupich, said about $8 million a year has been shifted from the cemetery system to pay down that debt.
Neither Betsy Bohlen, chief operating officer of the archdiocese, nor Cupich would comment. But church spokeswoman Paula Waters said in a statement:
“Investment earnings on cemeteries assets are used to help fund annual debt payments. These investment earnings are over and above what is needed for the proper care of our cemeteries. We take all of our obligations seriously and discharge them responsibly.”
Waters wouldn’t answer questions about the church’s debt and whether the church has been less than straightforward by failing to disclose this revenue stream until now.
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