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Spotlight Report

Catholic Charities donations decline

By Jenny Jiang, Globe Correspondent, 8/23/2002

Catholic Charities reported a smaller than expected shortfall in donations this year despite a reported decrease in contributions following the clergy sexual abuse scandal and the cancellation of a major fund-raising event in March, according to a letter sent by the group's president last week.

Donations to the charitable organization fell by $118,000 in 2002, according to Dr. Joseph Doolin, president of Catholic Charities. Although this year's deficit was projected to be as high as $1.4 million, Catholic Charities ended the fiscal year with an operating deficit of $300,000, which is approximately $59,000 lower than the deficit recorded last year.

''In simple terms, Catholic Charities is basically in pretty good shape,'' Doolin wrote in the letter sent to the board of trustees. ''All this is not to say that Catholic Charities is without short-term challenges and the need to address a longer-term vision.''

The weak economy coupled with a decline in contributions in the wake of the church sex abuse scandal forced the agency to cut costs and eliminate about 70 staff positions, Doolin wrote in the letter sent to the group's trustees.

''Despite the significant turmoil spinning around us, the people of Catholic Charities continue to do good work every day,'' Doolin wrote.

Catholic Charities, an agency created by the Archdiocese of Boston, provides social services such as substance abuse counseling and operates homeless shelters and food pantries. Doolin has previously stated that the agency operates independently of the archdioceses in its fund-raising and spending activities.

Doolin said that while the cancellation of this year's annual garden party at the cardinal's residence - which raised more than $1 million for Catholic Charities last year - has ''left a hole'' in the agency's fund-raising efforts, the group closed the gap by collecting a ''respectable sum'' of $700,000 in contributions.

''I am also grateful to all the individuals, couples, families - and parishes - who, rather than not support the archdioceses in any way, opted to partner in mission with Catholic Charities this past spring and early summer,'' Doolin said.

In the letter, Doolin also said that an examination of the impact of a potential archdiocesan bankruptcy would not directly affect Catholic Charities.

''However, there could be some `guilt by association' that would impact us negatively in the short-term, particularly in the areas of financing,'' Doolin wrote.

The board of trustees will meet Sept. 18 to discuss the organization's fiscal situation.

This story ran on page B5 of the Boston Globe on 8/23/2002.
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