By PETER OKELL
IF Manchester can be taken as a fair example, a large number of Catholic guilds and associations in Britain must be in danger of finding themselves homeless.
As old buildings come down, and the developers move in. more and more organisations arc discovering that they simply cannot find space at a rent they can afford. Unless the Church is prepared to do something they will he virtually on the streets.
here in Manchester the Catholic Evidence Guild, the Catholic Transport (Judd. and others, are only able to meet. thanks to the generosity of the local clergy. Such organisations as the Catholic Social Guild and the K.S.C., to name but two, hold their gatherings in the upstairs rooms of local pubs.
Just how serious the situation is can be judged from the case of the Legion of Mary. They were forced to quit the premises they had hired for LI a week; estate agents quoted 1300 a year for new premises. In the end the Link Society offered them a room—hut now the building occupied by the Link is due to come down.
It's the same with other guilds and associations — you cannot hire a hall in the city for a public meeting for under £15, and if you want a really congenial place like the famous Free Trade I fall, you pay a cool £70-1:90 for it.
One secretary T spoke to summed it up like this: "We have spent millions on schools and education in the diocese at the expense of everything else".
What is the solution? So far as Manchester is concerned there is grossing support for the idea of having a Catholic Centre. Mr. Brian Hutchinson, chairman of the Salford Diocesan branch of the Catholic Social Guild, told me: "I have always felt we should have a Catholic Centre with space enough so that Catholic societies could have room and hold social events".
Other Catholic leaders support the idea. Bishop Beck. while in Salford. was known to favour such a centre and there were suggestions that it should he incorporated in the new City Church when it was built.
The need in Manchester is great. And there is no reason to think that Manchester is unique in having to face this problem.