Members of Newman Association propose years' long study in Britain
ANEW attempt to discover how many Cath olics there are in this country—and where, who and what they are—may soon be started by members of the Newman Association. The enquiry will last several years.
The London Newman Circle has issued to its members a statement recalling that the association's chaplain, Fr. Herbert Keldany, at the last annual meeting remarked on the need to engage in active work on behalf of the Hierarchy and Catholics of this country.
In particular he spoke of undertaking academic research work to which the association's varied membership is suited.
"It has now been suggested that the London Circle should form a research group to make a demographic study of the Catholic population in this country—how numerous it is. how distributed by age, sex. location. profession. education. wealth and health. whether it is gaining ground or losing ground, and where.
"This would call for a sustained .effort from a number of statisticians, economists, medical men, educationists and others, over a number of years.
"lt is already apparent that there is considerable support for this scheme, which would fill a serious gap in the resources of Catholic Action in this country, and moreover is a task that really only the Newman Association has the resources to undertake."
The Catholic population of England and Wales is given in the Catholic Directory as 2,837,700. This is based on figures compiled in the various dioceses. But stresses that these are only approximate. No exact figures exist.
No detailed analysis of the Catholic population of the country has ever been carried out.
The sponsors of the survey now proposed think that the varied membership of the Newman Association will provide a nucleus of the kind of people wanted for the work. But they hope other people and organisations will help.
Besides the specialists and professional men. people will be needed to carry nut the more ordinary tasks, such as typing letters and ad-dressing envelopes.
Surveys of the kind intended have already been made in Continental Europe and in America. Paris University has a Chair of Catholic Demography.
The sponsors feel that the particular problems of the Church in Britain make research work on these lines essential.
One of them. Mr. Anthony Spencer, hon. secretary of the London Newman Circle, told THE CATHOLIC HERALD: "The clergy and the laity face the task of Catholicising their country. They do so only with vague notions of the size of the task that lies before them, and with an even vaguer idea of the resources in terms of men and women, ability. enthusiasm and material support that arc available for the task."
He said the survey would provide this and make possible objective tests of the effect of particular policies, tactics or strategy.
Properly carried out, it would he of use to the Hierarchy, to Catholic Action and to Catholic organisations.
The scheme is to be discussed at a meeting at the Newman International Centre on December 4. The sponsors ask any interested Catholic to be there, and to send Mr. Spencer at the Newman International Centre details of their qualifications or of the kind of help they could give.