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Apr 13, 2002
Catholic Charities of Eastern Massachusetts
Reports Drop-off in Donations
By Justin Pope
The Associated Press
BOSTON (AP) - The child-molestation scandal in the Boston Archdiocese is
contributing to a drop-off in donations to Catholic Charities in the metropolitan
In the past week or so, envelopes that normally come in with donations from
individuals for the group's Easter campaign have begun arriving with angry notes.
And a series of foundations have sent letters rejecting the organization's grant
The organization has already laid off about 70 workers and plans to lay off 200
more. Some of the layoffs are the result of state budget cuts, but the priest sex
abuse scandal has severely compounded the problem, Catholic Charities said.
"They send you back letters saying 'No,' then when you talk to them on the phone
they say, 'We're not going to give to anything with 'Catholic' in the name,'" said
Maureen March, a spokeswoman for the organization, which says it serves 173,000
people in eastern Massachusetts.
She could not specify how much money the organization is losing because of the
scandal. The group has an annual budget of about $40 million.
Catholic Charities runs more than 150 social service programs, including adult
education, child care, drug and alcohol counseling, food pantries and homeless
March said her group is trying to tell its donors that it has little official connection
with the church: Catholic Charities gets only 2 percent of its revenue from the
church, and 60 percent of the people it serves are not Catholic.
"The only people that are going to suffer by not giving to Catholic Charities are the
desperately poor, who cannot wait this out," she said.
The group's disclosure is one of the first indications that the scandal is having a
real financial effect not only on the church but on related organizations.
The archdiocese is already facing what some estimates suggest could be more than
$100 million in payments to settle sex abuse lawsuits. In January, Cardinal Bernard
F. Law ordered 30 percent spending cuts, blaming the sagging economy.
The archdiocese insists it is continuing with a $300 million capital campaign, the
largest for an American archdiocese, but it has scaled back some fund-raising. A
spokeswoman for the archdiocese, and development director Ken Hokenson did not
immediately return calls for comment.
The scandal's effect on fund-raising could increase pressure on Law to resign. A
number of prominent, wealthy Boston Catholics who had supported Law have in
recent days called on him to step down, accusing him of protecting child-molesting
"It might not bankrupt the church, but it would certainly denude it," said Thomas
O'Connor, a Boston College church historian. "If he didn't want to see this or feel
responsible for causing this, it would be something that he'd have to consider."