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Catholics consider pulling donations after sex scandal

  • FILE- In this Sept. 24, 2015, file photo a member of the clergy prays the rosary as he waits for Pope Francis to arrive at St. Patrick's Cathedral for evening prayer service in New York. Across the U.S., Catholics once faithful with their financial support to their churches are searching for ways to respond to the constant sex-abuse scandals that have tarnished the institution in which they believe, with back-to-back scandals in the past two months. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File) MARY ALTAFFER

  • FILE- In this Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018, file photo Bishop David Zubik, current Bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh, takes questions from reporters after vocation Mass at Saints John and Paul Parish in Franklin Park, Pa. Zubik, the bishop of Pittsburgh's Roman Catholic diocese, is pushing back against a call for his resignation and says the diocese has “followed every single step” needed for responsible action after allegations of child sexual abuse. (Michael M.... Michael M. Santiago



Associated Press
Sunday, August 19, 2018

For decades, Michael Drweiga has opened his wallet whenever the donation basket comes around at church, but the latest revelations of priests sexually abusing children brought him to the conclusion that he can no longer justify giving.

Brice Sokolowski helps small Catholic nonprofits and churches raise money, but he too supports the calls to withhold donations.

And Georgene Sorensen has felt enough anger and “just total sadness” over the past few weeks that she’s reconsidering her weekly offering at her parish.

Across the U.S., Catholics once faithful with their financial support to their churches are searching for ways to respond to the constant sex-abuse scandals that have tarnished the institution in which they believe, with back-to-back scandals in the past two months.

The most recent came Tuesday when a grand jury report revealed that hundreds of Roman Catholic priests in Pennsylvania molested more than 1,000 children in six dioceses over a 70-year period – crimes that church leaders are accused of covering up. The report came two months after Pope Francis ordered disgraced ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick removed from public ministry amid allegations the 88-year-old retired archbishop sexually abused an altar boy and engaged in sexual misconduct with adult seminarians decades ago.

The most recent “whopper of a report” from Pennsylvania, Drweiga said, was enough to make him wonder where his money was going and whether it was being used to cover up abuses.

“In an organization that spans the whole world like the Catholic Church, you don’t know where your money is going. And when you read about these priest-abuse scandals it just raises that question to the highest power. What is this money going for?” said Drweiga, 63, of Wilmette, Ill.

Sokolowski, of Austin, Texas, founded Catholicfundraiser.net to provide advice to Catholic nonprofits and churches, said he’s heard from many who are “really sick and tired” of hearing about abuse.

“So the big thing that people are saying is, ‘We just need to stop funding their crap,’ ” said Sokolowski, 36. He said he encourages people to stop giving money to their diocese, which oversees the network of churches in an area, but to keep supporting their local parish and tell their priest and bishop what they’re doing.

Calls to financially boycott the Catholic Church are not new. Five years ago, after sex-abuse scandals rocked the archdiocese in St. Paul, Minn., parishioners talked about withholding their donations in protest.

But Catholics face a delicate balance because some of the money dioceses raise are shared with parishes, cautioned Dr. Edward Peters, the Edmund Cardinal Szoka Chair at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

“I’m just saying, be careful about punishing the Spouse of Christ and her dependent children because some priests and even bishops, men presumably wedded to her as Jesus was wedded to her, abandoned her so shamelessly,” Peters wrote in a blog post Thursday, referring to the Catholic Church.