|Q-C Diocese Suspends
By Todd Ruger
September 22, 2004
The Catholic Diocese of Davenport has temporarily postponed its annual appeal for operating funds while lawsuits alleging decades-old instances of sexual abuse by priests are pending.
This year’s Annual Diocesan Appeal, which had been set to kick off Saturday and Sunday, will not go forward while the diocese attempts to settle the lawsuits in mediation sessions this month, diocese attorney Robert McMonagle confirmed Tuesday.
Instead, the diocese will wait until the end of the sessions, whether they are successful or not, so it can “intelligently answer donors’ questions about what the organization’s going to look like and where the money is going,” he said.
“(Lawsuit settlements) may well necessitate a restructuring of programs,” he added.
The annual appeal raised $2.5 million last year and $2.4 million in 2002, according to audited financial statements printed in the Catholic Messenger, the diocesan newspaper.
Funds raised during the appeal defray about 70 percent of the operating budget for diocesan ministries and programs, officials said. The balance of the operating budget comes primarily from investments, a diocese spokesman, the Rev. David Montgomery, has said, while parish activities are supported by Sunday Mass collections.
The diocese has discussed out-of-court settlements this month with 37 men alleging that they were sexually abused by priests decades earlier. If those talks fail, trials in 16 lawsuits filed against the diocese are scheduled to begin Nov. 1 at a rate of about one per month.
Craig Levien, the Quad-City attorney representing those men, said Tuesday that he does not know “why the diocese would ever delay the appeal for charitable contributions.
“It’s very disturbing that they would choose to delay their efforts of accepting contributions and somehow blame it on the existence of these lawsuits.
“What that suggests to me is they do not want the amount of charitable contributions to be known.”
McMonagle said the diocese is not trying to
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