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Spotlight Report

Haitian agency's use for charity aid eyed

By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff, 4/13/2002

A social service agency funded by Catholic Charities helped pay for last month's mobilization of Boston's Haitian community in support of embattled Cardinal Bernard Law.

The Dorchester-based Haitian Multi-Service Center paid about $1,300 to rent five buses used to transport supporters to Palm Sunday Mass, celebrated by Law at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston's South End, the center's director, Pierre Imbert, said yesterday. But he said the center agreed to pay after a prominent community leader promised to reimburse it for the cost.

Imbert was responding to a complaint made earlier in the day by Jacques Dady Jean, a local activist who operates a Mattapan Website and who asked that Catholic Charities audit the spending of the service center, which is an agency of the charitable organization. Jean complained to Catholic Charities that he was ''troubled'' that charitable donations were being used to support Law.

''We're confident in the appropriateness of the event,'' said Maureen March, spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, which was established by the archdiocese but is supposed to maintain independent fund-raising and spending. ''The center does community-building events, and that would be an appropriate use of funds, especially when it was promised to be reimbursed.''

The Haitian center, which provides adult literacy, citizenship, day care, and other services, receives $1.5 million a year from Catholic Charities, March said.

Catholic Charities had not been involved in or aware of the Palm Sunday event, she said. An estimated 800 members of Boston's large Haitian community turned out to stand behind Law, Imbert said. Law enjoys deep support in the community because he has shown ''compassion and care'' for Haitians both in Boston and in Haiti, he said. Most of those who attended traveled by private car, said Imbert, who described the event as ''purely spontaneous.'' The service center was a ''facilitator,'' not an organizer, he said, though he was among the participants.

A local physician, Roger Jean-Charles, pledged before the March 24 event to reimburse the center, but as of yesterday had not yet done so, Imbert said. Dr. Jean-Charles could not be reached last night.

This story ran on page B7 of the Boston Globe on 4/13/2002.
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