Archdiocesan records confirm that priests were given this assignment, and a spokesman told CNA it is likely the archdiocese provided some financial support for the role.
Former IVE seminarians told CNA that McCarrick made significant demands of staff and formators. CNA was told, for example, that despite the austere lifestyle encouraged by the order, McCarrick had his own VIP menu served to him in the refectory, regardless of what the priests and seminarians were eating.
Local formators and superiors of the IVE were, according to CNA's sources within the order, unhappy with the arrangement, but recognized that the liberal-minded McCarrick functioned as a sort of informal patron for the order, despite its more traditional leanings. McCarrick frequently ordained the order's priests, in Washington and abroad, and helped them to navigate criticisms from South American bishops, including Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis.
The Institute of the Incarnate Word was founded in 1984 in Argentina by Fr. Carlos Miguel Buela. Buela retired in 2010 amid suspicion of sexual misconduct. In 2016, the Vatican affirmed the veracity of allegations that Buela engaged in sexual improprieties with adult seminarians of his community; the priest was forbidden by the Vatican from contact with members of the IVE, and from appearing in public.
McCarrick's assistance has been reported to have been especially important to the order as allegations against Buela came to light. But sources say that help came with a price. One source characterized McCarrick's attitude toward the group as "If you're grateful, you'll shut up."
Eventually, the order withdrew the priest secretary assigned to McCarrick, citing the need for ordained priests to serve in active ministry. In his place, McCarrick arranged to have two IVE seminarians, known as "bedels" in the order, assigned to him.
These seminarians lived with McCarrick in his on-campus house and were responsible for driving him around Washington, accompanying him on trips, and essentially functioning as his personal staff.
It was not, according to seminarians who spoke with CNA, a prized assignment, and the bedels assigned to McCarrick were rotated each year.
One former IVE seminarian told CNA that complaints were raised about McCarrick's demands – although none of them were sexual in nature – and said the rector warned seminarians to try to remain detached from McCarrick's "worldly" tastes.
Some of the seminarians were, according to sources, obliged by McCarrick to take him on trips to see friends, including to a beach house, though it is not clear if this was the now much-reported house in New Jersey.
On at least one occasion, McCarrick obliged his bedels to accompany him to a casino, an incident which triggered strong complaints from the seminarians themselves and from their formators, who raised the matter with the order's leadership in Rome.