Oxford expert leads group of /Newman specialists
MEMBERS of the Newman Association and some other Catholics who want to discover how many Catholics there really are in England and Wales—just who and what they are, what they do and where they live—have entered the first stage of their ambitious effort. Thpir investigation may last several years.
About 40 people are already taking an active part or have undertaken to do so. More than half of these are qualified for the specialised aspects of the immense task.
They are directed by a committee elected at a recent meeting at the Newman International Centre, in London. Chairman of the Committee is a famous Catholic expert. Mr. Colin Clark, Director of the Oxford University Agricultural Economics Research Institute.
The hon. secretary of the London Newman Circle. Mr. A. E. C. W. Spencer—who shouldered much of the responsibility for launching the scheme—is secretary,
These are the other members all of them experts in various branches of the kind of work that the survey will require : Dr. J. S. Leo Bray, an investment manager of a big insurance company; Miss Eileen Brooke, a statistician of the Registrar General's Department:
Miss Audrey Donnithonie, at University College. London, and a writer on demographic subjects;
Mr. J. Archer, an actuary in the pensions department of Unilever Ltd.;
Mr. W. Roberts, a Ministry of Food statistician; Mr. P. H. Miller, a linguist and market research specialist.
Mr. Clark has suggested that the number of Catholics in the population may well prove greater than the figure usually given.
He recalled that the late Fr. Herbert Thurston, Si., published in 1936 statistics from which he inferred that Catholics formed nearer 10 per cent. of the population than the 5 per cent. generally acredited to them.
The first step by the research workers before the accumulation and study of information could begin was to decide just what information was wanted. the most likely sources from which it could be had. and its likely use and value in building a general picture as accurately as possible.
Most of the sources will give an upper limit as to numbers, for they will-not indicate how many Catholics are really practising.
Records of the numbers of Easter Confessions might be one of the sources from which the lower limit could be inferred.
The true figure will be somewhere in between the two, and much depends upon how greatly the two limits differ.
The search into these matters is only part of the great amount of work that will eventually have to he done. The aim is to make the survey exhaustive.