Each diocese has been asked to increase its contribution to the National Catholic Fund by 10 per cent this year to bring the total up to £200,000.
The fund pays the expenses of the national commissions and organisations set up by the Bishops' Conference. It also enables the bishops to give grants for projects considered to be of real pastoral worth.
Figures released yesterday show that £172,375 was raised from parish donations last year. More than £90,000 went to the commissions, while other Christian societies received grants totalling about £52,000.
"I he largest single grant went to the Catholic Youth Service Council, which received £11,000. The smallest, of £25. was to the Guide Association. The British Council of Churches received £1,500 exactly half the grant made last year.
In a message accompanying the figures, Archbishop Derek Worlock of Liverpool, chairman of the Finance Advisory Committee of the Bishops' Conference, said: "To maintain our present commitment and to provide for certain new responsibilities assigned to the fund by the bishops, this year we shall need £200,000 for our common purse. This will mean generous sacrifice, but we must not fail."
Archbishop Worlock said the fund might not sound as exciting as some appeals, but he went on: "Without the annual contribution from each diocese we cannot fulfil our task of bringing Christ's saving message to today's world."
The money is a fraction of what is given by Catholics each year to the work of the Church. Parochial donations to the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (Cafod), the missions and other causes account for a great deal of Catholic charity.