BY CHRISTINA FARRELL
CAFOD is considering changing its name to Caritas to bring it in line with the international agency.
The overseas aid operation of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales has been known as Cafod since its inception in 1962. But the charity now believes the time may be right to permanently link Cafod with the Caritas Internationalis name and logo. Cafod is already part of the federation, which operates in over 200 countries and territories worldwide.
A discussion document which sets out the pros and cons of such a move states that making the name change would help to increase Cafod's international profile and image, would assist with the recruitment of staff and would improve funding opportunities. It says that Cafod's role as a major world player would be enhanced under the Caritas name and would place it on a more equal footing with other agendes such as Oxfam, which already enjoy an international profile.
But the discussion to rebrand Cafod appears to follow a decision by the bishops of England and Wales to withdraw long-term funding for Caritas social -acti on , an agency of the bishops' conference. Earlier this month it was announced that the agency was seeking an additional £170,000 to fund its work over the next year.
Set up in 2003 Caritas social-action was mandated by the bishops to be the "voice of the Catholic Church on social justice arid care", an equivalent agency to Cafod in the domestic arena. But critics say the launching of the agency just caused confusion and Caritas would have been better placed within the Cafod network.
One Cafod supporter said:
-People questioned why this agency called Caritas was set up in the first instance. It would have been far better. more efficient and less costly, to establish Caritas as a subdivision of Cafod. They have the infrastructure and the expertise to support such an operation. The bishops are a bit afraid of Cafod. It's a highly efficient, successful agency and it's led by the laity."
Cafod believes that the name-change would also help to attract more supporters from European residents and black and minority ethnic communities who are more familiar with the Caritas brand. "It is not clear to others in the global development community that we are part of the Caritas Confederation and this considerably weakens our position," the document explains. "Within the international community Caritas is well known whereas Cafod is not." There would be disadvantages to such a move and the report makes elms that Cafod is esteemed within the Catholic community in England and Wales.
However the charity believes that a "significant proportion of the Catholic community ... do not have a deep understanding of our work. Any change to the name could adversely affect this and confuse supporters," The report recognises that a re-branding would also incur costs which, while not significant in overall terms, would not be viewed by supporters as a "good use of the funds they contribute".
The report concludes that the advantages of a namechange are within the international context while the disadvantages are primarily within the UK. Alison Fenney, advocacy and communications director at Cafod, said there would be no move to change the name in the short term, if at all. "No decision has been made at this stage," she said.