Diocese Launches Charity Fund-Raiser

By Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
February 6, 2003

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The Catholic Diocese of Phoenix launches its biggest fund-raising appeal ever on Sunday, against a backdrop of continuing revelations on the priest sex scandal and a "substantial" increase in need.

The church is overtly stating that no money will be used to defend the diocese against allegations of sexual misconduct or to pay settlements.

The diocese will attempt to raise a record $10 million in its annual Charity and Development Appeal. If it succeeds, the diocese will become one of only a dozen dioceses nationwide to reach that figure, according to figures provided by the diocese.

The appeal will be made in Catholic churches on Sunday and Feb. 16. Parishioners are asked to make a donation or to fill out pledge cards.

The money is used to support a range of activities, from seminarian education to needy parishes and schools, social services to outreach to minorities. Last year, a record $8.9 million was distributed.

John Reyno, a businessman who is heading the campaign, said he would not have taken the job without assurances that there would be "no legal detours" of donated money. He said donations will be "segregated, restricted and audited" to make sure the money stays where it belongs.

He said it is too early to tell the impact of the scandal on the campaign. But he said early donations from those who gave more than $1,000 in past years are running about even with a year ago.

Still, he has heard from people who plan to withhold donations to express opposition to Bishop Thomas O'Brien's handling of the scandal.

"Withholding money from this campaign only hurts the poor," Reyno said.

O'Brien, in a letter published in the diocesan newspaper, also emphasized that "no funds from the CDA have ever been or will ever be used for litigation or settlements in cases of sexual misconduct."


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