by Jonathan Petre CARDINAL Basil Hume is anxious to maintain the Catholic ethos of Providence Row night refuge. and has been personally involved in the negotiations to keep it open, according to Mr Lewis Donnelly, Co-ordinator of Westminster diocese's Social and Pastoral Action.
And the diocese has pledged funds to Providence Row to pay off any remaining debts after the GLC's £70,000 grant and Department of Environment grants have been taken into account.
"The diocese is firmly committed to plug the gap, but until the financial position has been worked out, we don't know the size of the gap," Mr Donnelly said.
Cardinal Hume has taken a particular interest in the night refuge, which houses about 50 homeless people. since the Providence Row Management Committee announced last month that it would have to close due to lack of funds.
He was kept informed by telephone and daily briefing sessions, and he personally attended negotiations over the diocese's future financial commitment to the refuge.
The Cardinal is now considering how best the diocese can become more directly involved in Providence Row, which he has in the past described as "the jewel in the Catholic crown" of which the Church in Westminster is the "moral trustee".
The diocese has two nominees with voting rights on the Management Committee, but until now there had been little contact between them and an official diocesan body.
Now the Cardinal is keen to ensure that the nominees will use their voting rights in accordance with diocesan policy, which is. Mr Donnelly said, to keep the refuge open at the present level of care.
Mr Donnelly said: "I think there are two elements involved here. First there is the question of the services and mission of the Sisters of Mercy in Providence Row. Secondly there is the question of the professional qualities and skills of the nuns who have worked there.
"The diocese wants, to maintain both elements."