New York Diocese's Fund-Raiser Lags Amid Revelations of Priest Abuse
By Frank Eltman
San Francisco Chronicle [Long Island NY]
March 26, 2003
(03-26) 11:45 PST ROCKVILLE CENTRE, N.Y. (AP) --
A Roman Catholic diocese on Long Island says contributions to its annual fund-raising drive have dropped by a third because of the priest sex abuse scandal.
Donations to the 2003 Bishop's Annual Appeal are down 34 percent from the pledges received a year ago for parishes and Catholic charities. The Diocese of Rockville Centre said donations are not used to pay settlements of sex abuse cases.
"We've certainly heard from people who say they are not giving because of the sexual abuse by priests," Joanne Novarro, the diocesan spokeswoman, said Wednesday. "I can't deny that people are upset."
In February, a grand jury report alleged the diocese repeatedly protected priests accused of abuse by transferring them to other parishes. The grand jury was unable to return indictments against the diocese because the five-year statute of limitations had expired.
Also, a former priest was sentenced earlier this month to two years in jail after admitting he sodomized a teenage boy at parishes in two counties.
Novarro insisted that while the scandal has been a factor, the flagging economy and the buildup to the war in Iraq also had an effect.
Francis J. Butler, president of the Washington-based Foundations and Donors Interested in Catholic Activities, said the economy has had an effect on charities nationwide, but dioceses involved in high-profile sex abuse scandals have been particularly hard it.
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