There is growing speculation about the future of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice (CARJ), with suspicions that the organisation might be absorbed into the Bishops Conference for England and Wales's office for migration.
Established in 1984 to promote the voice of black and minority ethnic Catholics in the Church and beyond, CARJ later became an agency of the Bishops Conference of England and Wales. A large proportion of the agencies income comes from the annual Racial Justice Sunday collection, which occurs on the second Sunday in September.
The suspicions about the future of CARJ arise due to a change that has been made in the way in which the funds collected on Racial Justice Sunday are now allocated. Previously, all the funds went to CARJ but as of last September the administration and funding of the collection moved to the office for migration at the Bishops Conference for England and Wales based in Eccleston Square, London.
A letter was sent out to parish priests last July by Archbishop Malcolm McMahon, chair of the Catholic Trust for England and Wales and Marcus Stock, the then general secretary of the Catholic Bishops Conference for England and Wales, declaring that there would be no special materials sent out to priests to promote Racial Justice Sunday, as previously organised by CARJ, but they would be called upon to encourage “the support of the faithful in the Church’s work for racial justice.”
“Recognising the normal channels through which parish priests communicate with the members of their parish, we hope that you will provide assistance by promoting Racial Justice Sunday and the second collection which accompanies it through your parish newsletter, parish website and any notices which you announce at Sunday Mass,” says the letter.
The funds collected seem to be destined for the Bishops Conference Office for Migration. “The Catholic Church in England and Wales is contributing to the efforts to overcome racial justice in our nation through the pioneering work of the Bishops’ Conference Office for Migration. This work has seen a unique partnership forged between the Church and the statutory authorities in combatting human trafficking and modern‐day forms of slavery, and supporting some of the most vulnerable and marginalised people. To support this work and that of the Catholic Association for Racial Justice, a second collection will be taken next/this weekend,” says the letter.
Interestingly, Bishop Pat Lynch is head of the office for migration and President of CARJ, whilst the secretary for the office for migration is Cecilia Taylor-Camra, who was previously the CARJ co-ordinator.
Five months after the collection was taken, the Bishops Conference was unable to give any indicator as to how much had been collected or what the split would be between the office for migration and CARJ. “The Racial Justice Sunday collection is now being administered by the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales finance department. The monies will be distributed amongst Carj and the Office of Migration. It is too early to say how much the collection has fully raised - it takes some time for all the monies to be sent into the Bishops' Conference, most dioceses tend to send in their restricted collections at their financial year end,” said a spokesperson for the Catholic Communications Network.
CARJ relies for more than 75% of its income on the Racial Justice Sunday collection with that reliance growing as income from other traditional sources like religious orders dries up