THE Catenian Association meeting in Edinburgh last weekend announced that the Hierarchy of England and Wales has turned down a scheme for financing Catholic university chaplaincies on a national basis. The plan, which earlier had been agreed to in principle by the Bishops, called upon the Catenians to raise enough funds to support the 30 chaplaincies. Nearly three years of negotiation were at the decisive stage when the reversal came.
The Catenian statement read:
"At the Low Week meeting. 1965. the Hierarchy was persuaded that these chaplaincies will be financed more effectively by local efforts rather than by a national appeal, and therefore was not disposed to proceed with the agreed scheme. "Under these circumstances the Catcnian Association as a national organisation naturally has no alternative but to withdraw from the project, leaving its members to
Catholic Herald Reporter support the individual chaplaincies as heretofore."
Fr. Thomas A. McGoldrick, chairman of the Catholic Chaplain's Conference, and chaplain to Liverpool University's Catholics, had not heard of the statement until 1 read it to him on Tuesday. "My immediate reaction," he said, "is that it is a pity that some formula could not have been worked out for places like Wales where Catholics are thin upon the ground. I am sorry they could not have become some sort of national obligation. The situation is very different for Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, where Catholics are thick upon the ground. At the same time, what is everyone's baby nationally is no one's. 1 don't think I can comment beyond that, except that 1 was quite convinced some good would come of the Catenian scheme. It was a good thing to have tried."
Fr. Michael Hollings, chaplain to Oxford University's Catholics,
explained how the decision would affect the Oxbridge universities. -Neither Oxford nor Cambridge have local Bishops and the chaplaincies are the concern of the hierarchy." Cardinal Ileenan announced publicly during a recent visit that Oxford's forthcoming appeal for funds would be national. (The existing Oxford chaplaincy chapel must be torn down and another built as part of a city redevelopment plan.) "I hope," Fr. Hollings said, "that Oxford's rebuilding programme will still have the support of all Catholics."
Many people connected with the Oxford and Cambridge chaplaincies had hoped that the Catenian plan would mean the end of the present anachronistic situation governing those chaplaincies. At present they receive only £500 a year from the hierarchy. Chaplains do not receive any stipend. and candidates for the chaplain's post at both universities must have private means.