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Spotlight Report

Catholic Charities to weigh taking gift

Voice's donation barred by bishop

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 4/2/2003

The board of Catholic Charities has scheduled an emergency meeting next Tuesday to decide whether to accept money from Voice of the Faithful.

Joseph Doolin, president of Catholic Charities, said in a statement yesterday that his organization will consider accepting the money, despite being directed to turn it down by Bishop Richard G. Lennon, the interim administrator of the Archdiocese of Boston.

The conflict is setting up a test of authority over Catholic Charities, which is simultaneously the social services arm of the archdiocese and a separately incorporated institution.

''Throughout its 100 years of service to the people of eastern Massachusetts, Catholic Charities has been proud to be an integral part of the Archdiocese of Boston,'' Doolin said. ''We have always respected the teaching authority of the archbishop, and will continue to do so.''

However, Doolin said, ''I have great confidence in our board of trustees and in our church hierarchy that the social mission of the church, as implemented by Catholic Charities, will be our goal as we address the policy issues related to contributions.''

Voice of the Faithful, a lay group based in Newton, has been raising money for church ministries through its own fund, called Voice of Compassion, which is administered by the National Catholic Community Foundation in Maryland. The lay group is offering money to the archdiocese on the condition that it not be used for administrative expenses of the archdiocese.

Last fall, Cardinal Bernard F. Law did not accept $56,000 offered by Voice of the Faithful before a deadline imposed by the group, so the group offered it to Catholic Charities, which took the money. Now Voice of the Faithful is offering an additional $35,000, which was raised during the fourth quarter of 2002.

Lennon, who has headed the archdiocese since Law's resignation Dec. 13, says he won't take the money because it undermines the church's own fund-raising efforts and the unity of the church. Lennon is insisting that no church agencies, including Catholic Charities, take the money either.

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 4/2/2003.
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