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Spotlight Report

Funds offered to cardinal, on condition

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 10/16/2002

A small gathering of Boston-area Catholics grew into Voice of the Faithful, a nationwide lay reform group.  
Coverage of Voice of the Faithful
Voice of the Faithful said yesterday it has offered $56,000 to Cardinal Bernard F. Law, with the provision that the money be spent on local Catholic ministries, and not on Law's own administration.

Law has previously said he would not accept money raised by Voice of the Faithful, but his spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, said yesterday that she would not comment on the actual offer until the cardinal has received and reviewed it.

The money is being offered to Law through the National Catholic Community Foundation, a Maryland-based organization that helps philanthropists route money to Catholic causes. Voice of the Faithful, a Newton-based lay group formed by Catholics upset over the clergy sex abuse crisis, raised the money from Catholics unwilling to give directly to Law, and asked the foundation to disburse the money.

The funds come with a restriction: They are to be used for programs and ministries traditionally funded by the annual Cardinal's Appeal fund-raising campaign, but cannot be used to fund administrative costs of the archdiocese.

Foundation president Edward H. Robinson said he expects Law to receive the offer by the end of this week.

He declined to release a copy of the letter sent to the cardinal, but said it was a form letter informing him that the money is available if he wants it.

Robinson said the foundation will wait until the end of October for a response from Law. If it does not hear from him by then, it will offer the money to Catholic Charities of Boston. If Catholic Charities spurns the money, Robinson said, the foundation will offer it to individual Catholic causes in Boston, such as schools, social service programs, or religious orders.

The archdiocese's last comment on money raised by Voice of the Faithful was July 22, when Morrissey said, ''The archdiocese cannot accept this initiative of Voice of the Faithful, or the monies collected in this manner, because it undercuts that customary means of financial support to the mission of the Church in this Archdiocese, which is the Cardinal's Appeal.

''This approach of donating money to the mission of the Church which has been proposed by the Voice of the Faithful does not recognize the role of the archbishop and his responsibility in providing for the various programs and activities of the Church,'' she added.

Morrissey said yesterday that she will not make any further comment on the issue until the cardinal has a chance to review the foundation's written offer.

Michael Paulson can be reached by e-mail at

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 10/16/2002.
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