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Church Rejects Donation from Victim Support Group

Bishop Richard Lennon, the interim head of the embattled Boston Archdiocese Public, yesterday rejected donations from the Catholic lay group Voice of the Faithful (VOTF). Despite the ongoing priest sex abuse scandal and an increasingly bleak financial future for the Archdiocese, Lennon not only refused the $35,000 contribution but also barred Catholic Charities from accepting the funds. Catholic Charities vice chair Peter G. Meade responded saying the move would be a grave mistake, “The board’s position has been very clear–we are continuing a hundred-year-long position of accepting money from those who contribute, and it would be profoundly sad if we had to revisit this issue… This isn’t about power or politics, but about feeding the hungry and clothing the naked,” reported the Boston Globe.

According to church documents, the last year has been plagued by substantial declines in the number of active priests (many removed for alleged child abuse), attendance at weekly Mass, and contributions. Results from an annual archdiocesan survey showed a 14 percent drop in Mass attendance to less than 300,000 in a region boasting 2.1 million Catholics. With fundraising campaigns falling embarrassingly short, by about 30 to 50 percent, according to the Boston Globe, many pastors predict the closure of 30 to 40 parishes. Abuse claims filed by more than 500 people are expected to cost over $100 million to settle.

Voice of the Faithful was founded amidst the sex abuse scandal last year as a global organization representing “a group of concerned Catholics who love the church, and want nothing more than to help build the church up,” according to interim executive director Steve Krueger. The group now boasts 30,000 members nationwide.

The Vatican published its 900-page dictionary yesterday, sparking harsh criticism from Italian gays, reported the Associated Press. Describing homosexuality as an “unresolved psychological conflict” involving “profoundly disordered minds,” the Lexicon on Ambiguous and Colloquial Terms about Family Life and Ethical Questions reaffirms the Vatican’s strong anti-gay sentiment, according to Reuters. The glossary, conceived by Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, redefines terms such as “reproductive health” and “safe sex.” In particular, condom use was labeled an “exercise in self-justification,” according to the Guardian.

Sources:

Reuters 4/1/03; Hartford Courant 3/30/03; Associated Press 3/31/03; Boston Globe 4/1/03; Guardian 4/1/03

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