Wednesday, 25 January 2012


Reflecting on yesterday's post, I was wondering if I was just indulging in CAFOD-bashing.  (For overseas readers, I should explain that CAFOD is the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development, the official aid agency of the Catholic Church in England and Wales).  

Some of the complaints I have against them go back quite a long time, and perhaps it is time to forgive and forget.

However, I really don't think so.  I work on the (quite possibly delusional) assumption that if I am thinking like this, others may be too.

For that reason, and because it seems to me that CAFOD has betrayed the trust of many who gave (and many who still give) to it based on its claim 'CAFOD seeks to exercise a role consistent with its Catholic character,' I think that CAFOD really needs to do three things:

Firstly, admit that they have got some things wrong: specifically and without reservations (none of the 'sorry if we have been misunderstood' type of rubbish);

Secondly, apologise for the errors;

Thirdly, reform, so that they are totally aligned with Catholic social, moral and liturgical teaching and praxis.  That may involve changes in personnel, policy and practice.

Until they do that, those of us who mistrust them will find it very hard to be convinced that they are worthy of support, and will continue to examine them with a prejudicial eye...

Prejudicial, in that we have made our judgement (based on evidence) and until we see reason to reverse it, it is likely to stand.


Anonymous said...

Hear! Hear! (or whatever is the equivalent in webspeak!)

Jonathan Marshall said...

I agree entirely with you, Ben

Reading their own publicity, one could be forgiven for not noticing that CAFOD is actually supposed to be a Catholic charity; they could be any vaguely Christian, vaguely left-wing NGO.

In addition:

- The Filochowski scandal. Although Mr Filochowski’s sex life is a matter between him and God, I would have expected the Director of any charity proclaiming itself as “Catholic” to at least attempt to live in accordance with the Church’s teachings.

- The fact that Mr Filochowski’s successor, Chris Bain, was – at least until the MPs’ expenses scandal broke – living rent-free in a Labour MP’s house, the expenses of which were paid for by the taxpayer.

- The fact that in 2009 (the latest year for which figures are available) CAFOD gave nearly £300,000 of our money to “Islamic Relief Worldwide”. Why? I hope that this was a benign form of “money laundering” whereby a Christian charity could give aid to a Muslim country (Pakistan, probably, in this case) without creating problems. Fair enough – but why were we not told that this was where our donations were going? More worryingly, what other causes does “Islamic Relief Worldwide” support - and would we be happy to support those causes too?

- The fact that in 2010, the newsreader Jon Snow was invited to chair CAFOD’s annual Pope Paul VI Memorial Lecture. Mr Snow is outspokenly pro-abortion, and once accused the present Holy Father of being “responsible for millions of deaths in Africa”. Why didn’t CAFOD – as a “Catholic” charity - invite an actual Catholic instead of this man?

- The fact that CAFOD received, in 2010, £9.5 million of State funding (UK and EU for the most part) – 19% of their entire income. Is this a real charity or a Government agency?

- The fact that CAFOD seems to be obsessed with man-made climate change (a theory which fails to convince me and many others). In January 2011 they sent no fewer than three representatives to a fortnight-long “conference” in Cancun, a rather swish Mexican resort. This year they sent two delegates to Durban for another "climate change" beano (which cost £5000 of our money).

- The fact that CAFOD recently appointed as “Head of Media” Damian McBride, formerly one of Gordon Brown's senior officials, who was forced to resign after sending e-mails which discussed smearing senior Tories. Charming.

This latest foray into left-wing politics is par for the course - and has confirmed my aversion to supporting CAFOD.

Aid to the Church in Need and The Little Way Association get my money these days.