IN A PASTORAL letter to be read in all the Westminster parishes this week, Cardinal Hume appeals to the people of the diocese to join together to help reduce the diocese's £6-5 million debt.
Details of the debt first came to light in February, when it was revealed that an extensive school-building programme initiated In the 1960s had placed a heavy financial
burden on the diocese. It is expected that the diocese will have to pay more than £700,000 in interest on loans this year alone.
"We must face up to our present debt squarely and do all we can to reduce it, because we live in a real world where caring costs money," said the Cardinal. Throughout his letter, however, the r. ardinal stressed that his appeal was not merely a question of collecting money fbr its own
sake but to finance the important pastoral work 9f the.diocese.
"I am anxious that we should not become obsessed with our debt," be said, "We don't need money for its own sake, but we need it for what money can help us to do, and what we need to do is care, for it is in our caring for others that the Church makes Christ's presence evident in the world."
A sense of belonging to a parish involved
more than attending Mass at a particular church each Sunday, said the Cardinal. It included membership of the family of God which extended beyond the parish to the pastoral areas and to the whole diocese.
"The need to build ourselves into a family of God's people the need to go out to others in love and care, the need to provide sufficient funds to make such caring effective, will make demands on us," he said.
"It calls for prayer. for Cod's grace and strength to play our part in this family work.
Practical proposals for reducing the diocesan debt are to be launched in all churches on May 8, and are expected to include a full publication of the diocesan accounts, programmes for training the laity in financial matters, and measures to reduce the capital debt.