by Timothy Elphick
CATHOLICS ignored the recession and gave more money than ever before to the third world this year, according to statistics due to be released by the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development.
CAFOD's total general income rose to record levels in the 12 months to October, up by 36 per cent on the previous financial year, the agency said. The increase pushed the cash raised from parishes, schools and CAFOD's covenant subscribers, together with government and EC grants to £11.3 million. The comparable figure for 1990 was 83 million.
CAFOD estimated that when money raised for emergency operations in Africa, Bangladesh, and Iraqi Kurdistan are taken into account, overall income was in excess of L22 million.
Cathy Corcoran, the organisation's deputy director, said that cash being received by CAFOD began to show a sharp climb at the beginning of 1991, just when the Gulf War was being given saturation coverage on the television.
The war had the opposite effect on giving to the one CAFOD had expected. And plans for crisis talks with other leading aid agencies to help keep the African famine in the headlines proved unnecessary, Cathy Corcoran said.
Ms Corcoran said that surplus money had already been allocated to projects in flood prone Bangladesh and agricultural and water schemes in southern Ethiopia.
Catholics had shown 'incredible, sustained generosity and a tremedous awareness of third world problem? despite the squeeze on their own personal disposable incomes, she said.
But Ms Corcoran warned against assuming that donations would continue at the same high levels next year.
Kieran Kettleton, the agency's finance oMcer, said that on average the 1.3 million Catholics in England and Wales gave CAFOD around £5 each this year, over and above their other charitable commitments.
The Charities Aid Foundation said individual monthly giving in the UK had fallen by one third.