Frankly, I don't buy it.
The Archdiocese is clearly very intent on presenting the Catholic Services Appeal, its foundation, and the ministries it supports as something separate from the scandal-ridden and allegedly nearly bankrupt Central Corporation. Once again though, I think the Archdiocese's statements in comparison to its actions demonstrate that this separation is little more than 'smoke and mirrors', and I will explain why.
First, the Catholic Services Appeal foundation is being presented as an independent tax exempt corporation, with the materials provided last week also stating that it is an '501(c)3 listing on [sic] the USCCB' (materials, page 1). In other words, the Appeal Foundation is an independent 501(c)3 that receives its tax exempt status through the group ruling of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). However, the group ruling only applies to organizations that are 'operated, supervised, or controlled' by the Roman Catholic Church under which they are listed. In this case, that would be the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. Prior to being included under the group ruling, an attorney must review the Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws of the organization to ensure that the necessary control is maintained by the diocese. In general, the control requirements are met through provisions regarding the appointment of members of the corporation, and through dissolution clauses and other provisions regarding operations.
I would be more likely to accept the idea that the Foundation operated independently of the Archdiocese if it had sought independent tax exempt status. However, to secure my donation the foundation leadership would also have to change. It is simply not plausible to me that an organization under the governance of the brother-in-law of one of the bishops is independent (Tim Healy, the foundation President, is the brother-in-law of Bishop Cozzens). Canon law seemingly agrees, since 'persons related to the Bishop up to the fourth degree of consanguinity or affinity' are prohibited from serving on finance committees (canon 492, 3).
If nepotism isn't enough cause for concern, let me give you a couple of other things to consider when you are deciding whether to donate to the CSA. The materials provided state that the 'CSA Foundation assures a separation of funds so they will only go to case designated recipients and not to abuse related legal or other expenses' (materials, page 4 (labelled page 1). Again, I don't buy it. Giving to the CSA might not involve providing money to attorneys or for legal settlements, but it will certainly involve providing money to clergy who have been accused of acts of abuse. By its own admission the CSA Foundation designates funds to Indian Ministries (which employs Deacon Joseph Damiani, who I discussed in an earlier post), as well as for hospital chaplains. Please refer to my Affidavit in the Doe 1 case, pages 79 and 80, where I discuss the Archdiocese's practice of assigning men who have been accused of sexual abuse as hospital chaplains (and also note that I exempt religious order priests from my critique of chaplains appointed by the Archdiocese). These are only two examples of the ways in which CSA funds will be used to support 'other expenses' relating to abuse by clergy. Had I more time, and more column space, I could list others.
Finally, I disagree with the Foundation's claim that 'many of these ministries do not have the capacity for fundraising and would not exist without your support' (materials, page 1). With the exception of those 'ministries' which are actually offices or responsibilities belonging to the Central Corporation (evangelization, chaplains, and marriage and family life), you can contribute directly to the other organizations without having to go through the CSA and its Foundation, and many (like the Saint Paul Seminary, Catholic Charities, and Saint Paul Outreach) have robust in-house development programs. You also can contribute directly to elementary or high schools, or to the parishes that operate programs such as deaf ministry (just be sure to indicate that you do not want your contribution used to pay Archdiocesan assessments).
Given the stated costs of running the Foundation (apparently $800,000), giving directly to the organizations it claims to support would provide you (and them) with more bang for your buck. Giving directly would not fund the ministries run by the Archdiocese, but really isn't that the point? I have no intention of providing financial support to clergy offenders, nor am I willing to pay for hospital chaplains and similar services until I am convinced that the clergy assigned to those positions are good and honorable men capable of serving in those roles in a manner that is a credit to the Church and a legitimate help to those in need. Until the Foundation, and the Archdiocese by which it is controlled, can demonstrate that, they can save their postage by not sending me any more pledge cards or donation requests.