The maintenance money and a loan from an Irish bank were enough to begin paying victims but not enough to cover the entire bill. So Mahony and his aides sought contributions directly from parishes in 2008, and when they did, they said nothing about the cemetery fund.
In 19 presentations to parish groups about the archdiocese's need for contributions that winter, the cardinal and his aides laid out what they had done so far to pay the settlement, including selling real estate and liquidating $117 million in investments. But they did not reveal that the cemetery fund accounted for nearly all the investments liquidated.
In a statement, the archdiocese said that the appropriation was disclosed in an annual financial report and that people attending the presentations "were informed that the financial statement was publicly available" on its website. But the report available at the time of the 2008 presentations did not mention the cemetery fund in a section dedicated to the archdiocese plans to pay the abuse settlement. When the removal of the funds was noted — in a paragraph about cemetery care — the report said $75 million was taken, an understatement of $39.9 million. The church corrected the number in subsequent reports.
Church spokeswoman Guevara noted that there were additional presentations in 2009 and 2010, by which point the financial reports accurately reflected the size of the appropriation.
In the same period the archdiocese appropriated the maintenance money, church officials tapped a for-profit Louisiana company, Stewart Enterprises, to take over "pre-need" cemetery sales, in which people pay in advance for their own funeral arrangements. Stewart's commissioned salespeople use tablet computers and mobile printers to draw up contracts on church steps and customers' homes, according to the company's 2011 annual report, and the archdiocese wrote in its financial reports that Stewart would "accelerate" such sales to generate cash to pay back the settlement loans.
The church's fiscal 2012 financial report noted $22 million in new cemetery contracts that year. It said parish "awareness sessions" about the benefits of Catholic burial were ongoing and a new marketing campaign was planned for 2013.
"Management believes the marketing initiative will measurably increase sales," the report said.
Fred Rinaldi, who received a settlement from the archdiocese over allegations of molestation by his parish priest in the 1950s and 1960s, buried both of his parents in Holy Cross Cemetery in Culver City. Told of the appropriation of cemetery funds for the abuse payout, Rinaldi initially called it "just disgusting."
But after reflecting on his parents' devotion to the Catholic faith, he said they probably would have approved.
"Knowing my parents, I feel that's how they would have reacted," he said. Rinaldi said that both he and his mother eventually forgave defrocked priest Carl Sutphin and that Sutphin attended his mother's funeral Mass last year.
"She was a true, true Christian.... She forgave and moved on," he said.