Catholic Charities Sets $3.2 Million Goal

By Kristen Campbell
Mobile Register [Mobile AL]
January 16, 2004

Despite recent reports of sexual abuse allegations made against religious leaders who are connected to the Archdiocese of Mobile, donations to the Catholic Charities Appeal appear to have gone unscathed, according to Archbishop Oscar H. Lipscomb.

Last year, nearly $3.7 million was raised through the appeal, which had a goal of $3.1 million. This year, Catholic leaders hope to raise $3.2 million.

The money helps provide counseling assistance to families and direct aid to the poor, as well as support for ministries to children and the elderly.

"Our giving for last year did not seem to diminish despite difficulties and problems," Lipscomb said. If it had declined, Lipscomb said, "we wouldn't know exactly why."

"People sometimes write to us and say, 'I will never contribute again,'" Lipscomb said. "It has also been my experience that these people haven't contributed in the first place or contributed so little...but that's their way of expressing their concern."

Robert E. Kirby Jr., director of the Catholic Charities Appeal, said none of the money given to the appeal goes to settlements related to "any wayward priests or clergy."

Money to settle a recent civil suit alleging sexual abuse of former McGill-Toolen Catholic High School students at the hands of Brother Nicholas Paul Bendillo came from the archdiocese's insurance policy, according to Grey Redditt, one of the attorneys who represented the archdiocese in the case.

Kirby did say it was possible that counseling subsidized by Catholic Charities could be provided to individuals seeking such services as the result of alleged clergy abuse.

During a Thursday morning news conference, Lipscomb welcomed Catholics and non- Catholics to contribute to this year's appeal.

"I do find that the economy has not appreciated that much, that people are concerned about economic futures," the archbishop said. "The needs, if anything, are greater. The rebuttal of the tax referendum that we had in the state of Alabama has left many state agencies unable to do even some of the things that were expected of them and that they did do last year. Some of that fallout reaches us in Catholic Charities."

According to Catholic Charities, 2003 donations from the Mobile archdiocese helped provide:

Emergenccrisis support services to 65,000 people.

Pregnancy detection and counseling to 6,259 people.

Resettlement for 400 refugee families.

Childbirth planning and extended care for unmarried parents.

Homes for 14 adopted children.

Foster care for 37 children.

8,700 hours of counseling assistance to families and individuals.

1,700 hours of adolescent substance abuse outpatient treatment.

Those interested in contributing to the Catholic Charities Appeal may send donations to Catholic Charities Appeal; P.O. Box 230; Mobile AL 36601.

And Appeal Sunday is set for Jan. 25. On that Sunday, pledge cards will be collected at area parishes.

Contributions may be designated to various causes, including campus ministry, Catholic education and services to the aging.

Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.