Diocese Replaces Poverty Program

By Melissa Nann Burke
York Daily Record
June 16, 2010

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg will no longer take part in the U.S. bishops' anti-poverty program, choosing instead to create a diocesan fund to receive money that formerly went to the Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

The diocese sent nearly $95,000 to the campaign last year, but only a quarter of it was retained locally.

The newly created Matthew 25 Collection -- to be gathered by parishes the week before Thanksgiving -- will allow the diocese to track the funds and give parishes the ability to provide poverty relief on a local level, said diocesan spokesman Joe Aponick.

"The Matthew 25 Collection will provide more funding in southcentral Pennsylvania for direct material assistance and for addressing the root causes of poverty," he said.

Matthew 25 will support local initiatives such as jobs programs and other projects aimed at breaking the cycle of poverty, as well as emergency needs, such as food, shelter and clothing, Aponick said. Ten percent will be retained by the local parish for human assistance as they see fit, and the remainder will go toward parish-based organizations that can apply for funding.

"Matthew 25" refers to the Gospel writings of the apostle Matthew that discuss compassion for the less fortunate and mercy for the sick, hungry, thirsty and imprisoned.

The bishops of other dioceses -- including Allentown, Altoona-Johnstown and Greensburg in Pennsylvania -- have also stopped taking collections for the campaign.

Some noted the critics who say the CCHD has funded groups that supported legal abortion and gay marriage.

Defenders of the program say that the CCHD asks grant recipients with positions or practices that violate Catholic teaching to return the money they received.

Aponick said the major factor in the decision for former diocesan Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades was the desire to keep the anti-poverty funds collected local -- not the criticism of the CCHD. Rhoades decided to drop the CCHD collection in September, before he was appointed to head the Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend in Indiana earlier this year.

"The severe economic crisis at the time coupled with the state budget impasse provided the perfect storm for the church's charity efforts," Aponick said.

"The need for assistance at the local level was driven up while donations were hampered and funding to charity and social-service agencies was delayed. Parishes in the diocese continue to receive requests for assistance."

In other religion news around the region:

Tetherow removed: A priest with a criminal past has been dismissed as chaplain of the traditionalist Catholic congregation he served for several years in York.

Last month, Sts. Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in York posted an announcement on its website and bulletin that the Rev. Virgil Bradley Tetherow would no longer celebrate Mass for the congregation.

"Acting under the advice of expert legal counsel and that of a traditional priest who has provided spiritual direction to this Mission for many years, Fr. Tetherow was removed as chaplain of our religious society," the website read.

Dr. David Drew, chair of the congregation's board, last week confirmed the departure but would not comment further.

"He was discharged," Drew said. "For personal reasons."

In 2005, police in Monroe County charged Tetherow with 10 counts of possessing child pornography and 10 counts of criminal use of a communication facility, according to court records.

Tetherow later pleaded guilty to one charge of criminal use of a communication facility -- a felony. The District Attorney's Office dropped the other charges, and a judge sentenced Tetherow to two years' probation.

Drew said Tetherow is still in the York area, trying to organize an elementary school with families who left the chapel when Tetherow was dismissed.

Drew said the school has no ties to the Sts. Peter and Paul Roman congregation, which is considered schismatic by the Roman Catholic Church.

Neither Tetherow nor school board chair Michael Kearney returned a call for comment.

Vigil planned: The Adams Unity Coalition has organized a unity vigil 12:30 to 2 p.m. Saturday on the grounds of the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg on the corner of Hay Street and Buford Avenue.

Also, representatives of various faiths will reconsecrate the hallowed ground at 4 p.m. Sunday at the former Cyclorama Center at the Gettysburg National Military Park just off Taneytown Road in Gettysburg.

Organizers hope that the ceremony will undo any negativity brought upon the site the previous day by a rally planned by white supremacists.

The coalition includes representatives from the YWCA Gettysburg & Adams County, the Interfaith Center for Peace and Justice, the United Way of Adams County, Manos Unidas Hispanic American Center, the NAACP Greater Gettysburg chapter, the Adams County Human Relations Council and many private citizens.

Deacons assigned: The new class of Catholic deacons have been assigned to local parishes, including:

-- Thomas M. Aumen to St. Joseph Parish in Hanover;

-- Daniel L. Bernardy to St. Joseph Parish in Dallastown;

-- Frederick C. Horn to St. John the Baptist Parish in New Freedom; and

-- Timothy J. Shultis to St. Vincent de Paul Parish in Hanover.

Deacon Neil A. Crispo, who has served at St. Joseph's in Dallastown since 2007, was moved to St. Joseph's in Springettsbury Township.


Catholic Campaign for Human Development,


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