Diocese Shatters Fund-Raising Goal Despite Cloud Cast by Abuse Scandal

By Beth Braverman
The Express-Times [Allentown PA]
January 31, 2004

The Diocese of Allentown raised almost twice its 2003 capital campaign goal, taking in a total of $53.6 million.

More than 20,000 people contributed to the campaign, despite a turbulent year for the Catholic Church, which has been rocked by a widespread clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Diocese spokesman Matt Kerr said people may have been moved to give during this campaign to support their belief that the church would get past the scandal.

"I think that may have had something to do with it," he said. "People think, this is my church and this is one way I can show my support."

The diocese had hoped to gather $28 million.

"While I was confident our campaign would be successful, I could never have imagined the amazing depths of the faith or our people," said the Most Rev. Edward P. Cullen, Bishop of the Diocese of Allentown.

Kerr said another reason people gave generously is their awareness of the diocese's need for capital improvements.

Funds raised during the campaign will be used to strengthen the programs and ministries of the diocese, according to a diocese news release. It will go to parishes, Catholic education, the Forward with Christ Endowment, the education of priests and deacons, pastoral ministry and evangelization, parish-based social services with focus on the elderly, young adults programs, and campus ministry.

More than $1 million has already been returned to parishes throughout the diocese to address local needs.

A Diocesan Lay Leadership Committee that has monitored the campaign since its inception will stay on the job for the next six years while many donors make payments on their pledges.

The campaign, "Strengthening our Future in Faith," was the third capital campaign in the history of the Diocese and the first in almost 20 years.

The Diocese covers Northampton, Lehigh, Berks, Carbon and Schuylkill counties.

Reporter Beth Braverman can be reached at 610-258-7171 or by e-mail at


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