Cdl. Wuerl Spent Hundreds of Thousands Renovating His Penthouse and Employs a “Personal Chef” Who Comes and Goes in a White Mercedes

Church Militant News Headline: Cdl. Wuerl Spent Hundreds of Thousands Renovating His Penthouse [and Employs a “Personal Chef” Who Comes and Goes in a White Mercedes]

[Not a photo of the actual situation; only for purposes of illustration]

George Neumayr reveals his findings on the latest episode of “Mic’d Up.”

FULL STORY [blocked by] Rodney says, “Talk to the hand.” The content you are trying to view is for Premium subscribers only.

[Nonetheless, a free report on the latter part and some other relevant matters from elsewhere on the Internet]

Who Is The ‘Personal Chef’ Of Cardinal Donald Wuerl?


A flashy and expensive white Mercedes rolled out from the four-car garage of Donald Wuerl around 10:05 PM on December 11. I was there in the parking lot of Queen of the Americas parish at 2200 California street in the luxurious neighborhood known commonly as Embassy Row.

The Catholic cardinal of the nation’s capital since 2006, Wuerl has long had a reputation for high living — despite his exalted status as the most powerful American prelate in what the media calls the “humble church” of Pope Francis. (In his previous posting as a bishop in Pittsburgh, he lived in a 31-room mansion filled with antiques, rugs, and art.) But few know the details of his furtive pursuits on Embassy Row — a posh lifestyle which stands in shocking contrast to the simplicity Pope Francis insists he wants his shepherds to embrace.

I got a small glimpse of that contrast as I watched the white Mercedes move towards me. I put up my hand and the driver stopped and got out. “Do you work for Cardinal Wuerl?” I asked the black man, who appeared to be late middle age, as he exited the white Mercedes. “Yes,” he said. “I am his personal chef.”

Unaware that Cardinal Wuerl employed a personal chef, I asked the gentleman his name. He refused to give it. But he did describe himself as “an archdiocesan employee.”

Was the white Mercedes an archdiocesan vehicle? “I don’t know what you are implying,” said the man, who claimed the vehicle as his own, for which he paid with earnings from his time in the “military.”

Nervous and upset, the man resented my stopping him. “I got to get back to Baltimore,” he complained.

Earlier in the day, I had called Fr. Charles Cortinovis, the personal secretary to Cardinal Wuerl, multiple times and received no response. I had learned that Cortinovis lives, along with Wuerl, on the fourth floor of the archdiocesan building at 2200 California, a property priced at north of $43,000,000.

Cortinovis is the third personal secretary to Cardinal Wuerl during a tenure less than a decade. The other two had also lived on the same floor with the cardinal, which is “12,000 square feet,” according to a rough estimate by a lawyer familiar with the property records for the building.

Unbeknownst to most priests, lay people, and even donors to the Washington archdiocese, the palatial and multimillionaire floor also includes a chapel. Without any apparent consultation with his priests or the faithful, Wuerl during his tenure has made costly renovations to what he described to his architect as his “personal residence” and “personal chapel” on the floor.

“I would like to speak to Fr. Cortinovis,” I said to the black man leaning on the white Mercedes. He took out his cell phone and called up. He explained to Cortinovis that a reporter was in the parking lot seeking to speak with him. The man transferred the phone to me. “Is this Fr. Cortinovis?” I said as I got on the line. There was a very long pause, punctuated by Cortinovis barking, “Who are you?”

“I am a reporter doing a story on Cardinal Wuerl,” I replied. “I have been trying to get a hold of you.” I asked him why he hadn’t returned my multiple calls and then said, “Could I come up and speak with you and Cardinal Wuerl?” Audibly agitated, Cortinovis shouted, “It is ten after ten, Mr. Neumayr!”

I offered to come back the following day at a more convenient time. Still, my presence in the parking lot at the hour wasn’t unusual: after all, a loud Our Lady of Guadalupe festival was taking place on the floors below Wuerl’s penthouse, where the “Our Lady Queen of the Americas parish” resides (the striking pre-Vatican II chapel sits on the second floor). At 11 that evening, a Mass honoring the Virgin Mary was to be held, followed by a reception after midnight. Curiously, Cortinvois appeared oblivious to the noise from the build-up to the event below the penthouse he occupies with Wuerl.

“Nobody is allowed to go up to the fourth floor,” more than one parishioner has said to me in a lowered voice. According to my reporting, neither Wuerl nor Cortinovis ever interact with members of the parish, many of whom come from Mexico, Central America, and Latin America.

Rattled by my call, Cortinovis said that he needed to break away and would return to the line shortly. He never did. “Why did he abandon the call?” I asked the black man, who jumped into the white Mercedes and sped away.

I have made multiple requests for information about Wuerl’s “personal chef” to the archdiocese in general and Chieko Noguchi, his director of media relations, in particular. She refuses to answer my questions.

What is his name? How much does he receive in salary a year? The archdiocese declines to answer these questions, even though his salary, if he is in fact an archdiocesan employee, would derive from the donations of the faithful.

At two book signings — one at the bookstore at Catholic University’s Basilica on December 14 and another at K street’s Catholic Information Center on December 16 — Cardinal Wuerl appeared. He has recently penned a book titled To the Martyrs.

I showed up to both signings. At the first, shortly after Cardinal Wuerl arrived in the bookstore, two police officers came up to me and said, “We need to talk to you outside.” I was then informed that the archdiocese, which owns the bookstore’s property, wanted me “off it.” At the second signing, I arrived late, around 6:05 PM, as Cardinal Wuerl gave a little talk about his new book. I did not speak to him during the talk or during the question-and-answer session following it. But I did introduce myself to him as the book-signing phase of the event started and spoke to him privately as he approached the table at which he was to sign books.

“Why won’t you speak to me,” I said to him as he weakly shook my hand and averted his eyes from me. As he sat down to start signing books, officials with Opus Dei, the organization that runs the Catholic Information Center, encircled me and demanded that I leave. Evidently they had been briefed by archdiocesan officials on my journalistic investigation into the cardinal’s Embassy Row lifestyle. “I am a member of the press,” I replied as they pressed against me. “Call the police” if you want me to leave, I said to them as they temporized about what to do with me.

The crowd, full of supporters of Wuerl, showered me in condemnations. I stood my ground, even saying to John Gizzi, a reporter with Newsmax whom I saw approaching me as a member of the crowd angry with me, “Mr. Gizzi, do you believe in press freedom?” On that evening, he didn’t.

As the crowd tried to bully me out of the bookstore, I said, “Call the police.” Eventually, they did. A police man arrived and informed me that the property owner wanted me off it. Twice in one week, Wuerl, the face of the “transparent and humble” church of Pope Francis in America, had me escorted off its property by police.

“He is handling this very badly,” said a prominent liberal religion reporter to me last week.

Questions about Wuerl’s putative personal chef — along with many other regarding his use of the faithful’s money to pursue a lifestyle more akin to the Borgia era than the Francis one — remain, and it is clear that Cardinal Wuerl is determined to stonewall every one of them.


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2 comments on “Cdl. Wuerl Spent Hundreds of Thousands Renovating His Penthouse and Employs a “Personal Chef” Who Comes and Goes in a White Mercedes

  1. Book sales must be doing well unless he is the El Chapo of Washington . He is either stealing or selling something to keep that lifestyle afloat ! He needs to be investigated for skimming the collection plates !!!

  2. [“For the record”]

    DC’s Cardinal Wuerl: Church had a duty to avoid scandal by firing cantor in gay ‘marriage’

    WASHINGTON, DC, January 11, 2016 ( ) – The Catholic Church has the freedom and also the duty to take counteractive measures when one of its ministers publicly defies Catholic teaching, Washington D.C. Cardinal Donald Wuerl has said, lest the Church risk harming its own mission. And if an individual in ministry persists in violating of Church teaching, it is neither punitive nor discriminatory to end that relationship.

    “The purpose of our parishes, schools, ministries and other Catholic entities – and the task of those who work for them – is to lead people to Jesus,” Cardinal Wuerl stated, quoting his pastoral letter from last year, Being Catholic Today: Catholic Identity in an Age of Challenge.

    Cardinal Wuerl was addressing a situation at a Maryland parish in his blog where, as he stated, “the employment of a person in public ministry at a local parish was no longer possible when he indicated that he would continue to openly live in contradiction to what the Church proclaims as true, specifically a civil ‘same-sex marriage.’”

    Jeffrey Higgins was a cantor at Mother Seton Catholic Church in Germantown for the past year and a half, but was let go in early November after it was learned he was in a same-sex “marriage.”

    “When a person involved in ministerial activity offers a counter-witness to Catholic teaching by words or public conduct, however earnest they may be, experience shows that it can lead people away from the truth and otherwise have an adverse effect on our mission,” the cardinal said in his column. “The Church not only must be free to then take corrective steps, it has an obligation in charity and truth to do so.”

    Cardinal Wuerl said at the outset that mercy is at the heart of the Catholic faith and that the outcome of this situation was unfortunate. He also reminded those struggling to live in accord with the revealed truth of Catholic teaching that the Church recognizes their human dignity and also that everyone has the need to grow in faith, but that while everyone falls on occasion, we must amend our lives in Christ and when a person insists on continually contravening the Church, it’s not possible for the Church to keep them on.

    “However, if one persists or effectively insists that they are right and the Church is wrong,” the cardinal wrote, “in the face of such irreconcilable differences it is not discrimination or punishment to say that continued ministerial service is not possible.”

    He also spelled out the negative result of scandal when the Church does not act to maintain its identity. “It is not a question of personal private activity, but the social consequences of conduct which undermines the Church’s ability to fulfill her mission,” he stated. “When there is the potential for scandal that might lead people astray regarding the Catholic faith, continued service becomes untenable.”

    Cardinal Wuerl cited Pope St. John Paul II’s document on the Church’s missionary mandate, Redemptoris Missio, and Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, in addition to his own pastoral letter to illustrate the Church’s position on upholding its identity, specifically saying that people have a right to authentic Church teaching and that a bad witness can lead people away from God.

    “Those who agree to assist the Church in her mission and ministries represent the public face of the Church,” and thus they have a special responsibility to “respect our Catholic identity and avoid behavior that contradicts the very mission of the Catholic institution,” he wrote. “The Catholic faithful, and the other people that our ministries serve, have a right to the Gospel and to receive authentic Church teaching.”

    “Conversely,” he continued, “people are denied that right, and our mission and Catholic identity can be compromised ‘either through explicit dissent, miscatechesis or personal conduct that tends to draw people away from the communion of the Church’ (Being Catholic Today, 22).”

    “When people are faithful and give good witness, they lead people to Christ. But when we give bad witness, we can lead people away from Christ.”

    Cardinal Wuerl stated as well that “no one can claim a right simultaneously to work for the Church and to work against her belief,” and that any entity, whether secular or religious, “has the right to its own identity, mission and message, including the freedom of association to retain only people who will faithfully serve those interests and not act in ways that prejudice what the entity stands for.”

    He said it wasn’t uncommon for companies to sever employees who’ve done something in their personal lives that reflects negatively on the company, and “no official would ever continue to employ someone who in his off-hours publicly demonstrated that he was opposed to the official’s policies or campaigned for the official’s opponent.”

    A handful of protesters stood with Higgins and his same-sex partner outside the church this past Sunday, according to NBC Washington.

    Mother Seton’s pastor Father Lee Fangmeyer approached Higgins in November after news surfaced of Higgins being part of a same-sex “marriage.” Higgins confirmed this but refused to resign, appealing to the Archdiocese of Washington, according to the local ABC affiliate WJLA.

    Higgins heard back via a letter from Washington Auxiliary Bishop Barry Knestout in early December.

    “Those who minister in the name of the Church, whether paid or volunteer, share in the mission of the Church and therefore are to support Church teaching and practice,” the bishop’s letter said. “If someone chooses to live publicly in a manner that is incompatible with Church teaching, their continued work in ministry becomes untenable.”

    Bishop Knestout’s letter also reminded Higgins that Higgins had read and accepted a copy of the Archdiocese of Washington’s Employment Policies and Procedures in accepting the cantor position.

    That employment document states in part, “Our employees must conduct themselves with integrity and act in a manner consistent with the official teachings, doctrines, laws and policies of the Roman Catholic Church. In addition to all other legal grounds for discipline, up to and including termination, employees may be disciplined or dismissed for conduct constituting serious public immorality, public scandal, or public repudiation of the teachings, doctrines, or laws of the Roman Catholic Church.”

    “Your entering into a civil same-sex marriage is a public act contrary to Church teaching on marriage and is incompatible with a position as a liturgical minister in the Church,” Bishop Knestout said in his letter. “While you claim the freedom to act as you choose, you can recognize that the Church, too, has the freedom and also the obligation to teach and live according to her identity.”

    “Sometimes continued employment in the Church becomes untenable when there is a potential for scandal that might lead people astray regarding the Catholic faith,” he continued, concluding by stating that as a member of the Catholic Church, Higgins is still welcome in the Church.

    The Archdiocese of Washington had also released the statement below on the matter in late December:

    The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington seeks to manifest the presence of Christ in this community through its mission and ministries. Those who minister in the name of the Church, whether paid or volunteer, share in the mission of the Church and therefore are to support Church teaching and practice. While those employed as ministers in the Church may claim the freedom to act as they choose, they must also recognize that the Church too, has the freedom and also the obligation to teach and live according to her identity. If someone chooses to live publicly in a manner that is incompatible with Church teaching, their continued work in ministry becomes untenable.

    Recently it came to the attention of the pastor at Mother Seton Parish in Germantown that a four-hour per week, part-time music minister there entered into a same-sex marriage, in public violation of Catholic teaching that marriage is a union between a man and a woman. The individual ministered in the parish as a part-time cantor, leading songs in public worship from the church’s sanctuary. After the pastor met with the music minister and determined that the person had violated the agreed upon terms of his employment in the archdiocese, his employment at Mother Seton Parish was terminated.

    The issue, in this case, clearly became not the sexual preference of the music minister but his ability to publicly and authentically manifest the teaching of the Church. The Church’s ability to transmit authentic teaching and to pursue its mission effectively depends on its ability to select ministers whose public lives are consistent with its teachings and mission. The Catholic Church welcomes everyone into the Church for worship and calls every believer to strive to live the Gospel.

    As this is a personnel issue, the archdiocese will not comment further on this matter.

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