In Chicago, Church Sees No Change in Donations

National Crisis Has Affected Boston, However

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CHICAGO, JUNE 26, 2002 ( The Archdiocese of Chicago says the level of contributions it receives has stayed level despite the national sex abuse crisis that prompted some Catholics to say they would give less.

The archdiocese is making no plans for a drop in revenue or spending cuts, problems some dioceses are facing, according to a Chicago Tribune report.

Archdiocesan finance director Tom Brennan admits that he has not yet seen hard numbers from the past six months, but he bases his optimistic forecast on conversations he regularly has with leaders in each of the archdiocese´s six vicariates, or districts.

«I´ve got a standard list of questions including, ´Do you see any impact?´» Brennan said. «For the most part, the answer comes back: No.»

Last fiscal year, collections of offerings and bequests from Cook and Lake Counties´ parishes totaled $221 million. «We´re expecting growing revenues,» Brennan said.

Other dioceses are less confident. Leaders in Boston, where the crisis has hit hardest, said donations to their annual Cardinal´s Appeal were off by a third from a year earlier and that they need to slash operating expenses by 40% for the new fiscal year.

Some churches in Chicago´s archdiocese have experienced drops in donations, but officials here say the impact appears to be narrow.

A poll of U.S. Catholics last week, meanwhile, found that 17% said they had given less money to their parish as a result of the scandal. «I´d be very surprised if the churches at the parish level are not feeling a drop-off,» pollster John Zogby told the Tribune.

Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, said, «What I´m told is regular contributors have maintained their contributions.»

In the first half of the current fiscal year (through December), donations made to parishes were up 3% to 5%, Brennan said. Still, the scandal began drawing attention in Boston in January, and tallies of donations for the past six months will not be known until at least August, he said.

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