BRAINTREE (CBS/AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston says its annual appeal raised about $15.2 million in 2013, about $1 million more than the previous year.
Cardinal Seán O’Malley says it’s a sign of a changing church.
In a meeting Wednesday with the New England Council, O’Malley highlighted the work of the Catholic Church in the region.
“It’s certainly a much different feel than it was 10 years ago,” O’Malley told WBZ NewsRadio 1030′s Carl Stevens. “We’re very grateful to the Catholics who have persevered and helped the church in this process of recovery.”
O’Malley credits some of the change to Pope Francis, whom he says is helping to shift the focus to the mission of the church.
Pope Francis, who appears on the cover of the latest Rolling Stone magazine, has reached a level of popularity not limited to Catholics.
“That trumps Time Magazine,” O’Malley, a friend of Pope Francis, said.
Church officials say Catholics are putting their money where their mouths are with more than 40,000 people donating to the archdiocese’ largest annual fundraiser, which supports archdiocese operations, religious education, youth ministries, clergy and laity training, and other ministries.
“Religious people are 25-percent more likely to donate money and 23-percent more likely to volunteer,” according to O’Malley.
Kathleen Driscoll with the Boston Archdiocese says “there’s a pride in being Catholic again.”
Through the appeal, 144 parishes are receiving rebates totaling $1.6 million, earned for exceeding appeal goals.
Pledges to the annual appeal have been increasing since the height of the recession, and since dropping to a low of $8.8 million at the peak of the clergy sex abuse scandal in 2002.