By Harry Parkinson
APART from one tentative inquiry no diocese has made use or the generous grant of E100,000, which the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle is now able to offer other dioceses, Mgr David Norris, secretary to the Bishops' Conference, said this week.
Mgr Norris added that perhaps other dioceses were not fully aware of the purpose of the Mutual Support Fund which was established at the Bishops C'onference. "to receive contributions and to make grants to dioceses in England and Wales according to their needs". No other diocese has yet contributed to the fund.
The Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle's annual accounts, published yesterday, indicate that its finances have continued strong. In his introduction Bishop Hugh Lindsay says that the diocese is now financially secure enough to be able to offer assistance to other dioceses through its grant to the Mutual Support Fund.
This achievement is all the more remarkable because the diocese has always maintained a policy of financial independence. The central funds are used to support the parishes who also help one another. Consequently, there has never been any need to
pay high rates of interest to banks and other lenders.
Parishes with money lend to other parishes in need, with the diocese acting as banker. This year, the basic rate of interest was raised, but no interest is being charged to borrowing parishes who honour ,a reasonable but definite repayment agreement.
Besides this. certain administration expenses previously paid by the parishes will in future he paid from the central diocesan income.
Thus. the diocese supports the parishes and in turn the parishes support many charities and diocesan organisations such as the chaplaincies for students in Durham and Newcastle. The Society of St Vincent de Paul received £100,000 from parish collections and donations during the year and £25,580 was contributed to the Catholic Fund for Overseas Development (CAFOD). plus a special donation from central funds of £3,185.
The bishop ends his introduction by tanking everyone responsible for the diocese's financial success, which meant that greater support was being offered to others in their work for the Church.
"Any improvement in the finances of our diocese should mean that we give even more to others rather than take more for ourselves," he writes.