Voice of the Faithful, a group borne out of the Roman Catholic priest sex abuse scandal, has proposed creating a fund that would bypass the church hierarchy and give directly to archdiocese charities.
The approach "does not recognize the role of the archbishop and his responsibility in providing for the various programs and activities of the church," Donna Morrissey, spokeswoman for Cardinal Bernard Law, said in a statement.
Mike Emerton, a spokesman for Voice of the Faithful, said the group was ``a little confused'' by the announcement because it had not fully explained the fund to the archdiocese.
"If the Cardinal's Appeal is down 30 to 40 percent, and programs have to be closed, and the public knows there's a pool of money waiting that the laity contributed to make sure organizations are up and running, and the archdiocese flat out refuses to accept it, that would be a very unfortunate situation," Emerton said.
Last month, the archdiocese said it would reduce its budget by a third, cutting 15 positions as well as aid to parishes, schools and hospitals. Officials blamed the struggling economy.
The lay Catholic group held its first national meeting Saturday in Boston and says it has grown to 19,000 members in five months. The group is calling for drastic changes in the way the church is governed.
The archdiocese said the annual Cardinal's Appeal is the proper way for parishioners to donate to the church.
The archdiocese has not confirmed speculation that Cardinal's Appeal donations are down because Catholics are angry about the sexual abuse scandal.
Voice of the Faithful says its alternative fund will allow parishioners to keep giving to charities - many of which have been hurt by drop-offs in donations since the scandal broke - while avoiding supporting church officials.