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Spotlight Report

Catholic Charities cancels golf fund-raiser

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 8/24/2002

Catholic Charities, which this spring canceled its largest annual fund-raiser at the residence of Cardinal Bernard F. Law because of public outrage over Law's role in the sex abuse scandal, has now canceled a golf fund-raiser called the Cardinal's Cup and will rename it the Centennial Cup.

Maureen March, a spokeswoman for Catholic Charities, yesterday said the decision to cancel the golf tournament, which had been planned for next month, was driven primarily by the poor economy. But she acknowledged that the controversy surrounding Law's handling of sexually abusive priests played a role. Law, in past decades, transferred priests who were known molesters from parish to parish without notifying parishioners or law enforcement authorities.

''I'm not going to say it wasn't on people's minds,'' said March. ''It wouldn't be truthful to say it didn't play in at all. But it was one of many factors, and it was mostly the economy.'' She said the agency dropped plans for the 21-year-old tournament in July after it became clear that major corporate sponsors could not be found.

Last year the golf tournament raised $60,000 and had 112 golfers, she said. The fear was that the fund-raiser this year would lose money. The tournament will be revived next year under its new name, the Centennial Cup, which reflects the 100th anniversary of the founding of Catholic Charities.

She said the name change for the tournament had been contemplated before the scandal broke in January as part of the agency's effort to make people understand their donations go to the agency and not the archdiocese.

Catholic Charities has suffered financially because of the scandal.

Its annual garden party at the cardinal's residence had been its biggest single fund-raiser and had been a highlight on the social calendar for many of the city's wealthiest patrons. Last year it raised $1.2 million.

But the party had to be canceled because of the anger over Law's handling of the scandal. Instead a ''virtual garden party,'' with donations sought by mail, was held. That raised about $700,000, March said.

Catholic Charities provides services to 170,000 poor people, including homeless shelters, drug and alcohol abuse counseling, and adoption services.

Matt Carroll can be e-mailed at

This story ran on page B2 of the Boston Globe on 8/24/2002.
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