Catholic Youth Quango
Blogged by James Preece on 12th October 2009
The Oxford English Dictionary defines "quango" as follows...
noun (pl. quangos) Brit., chiefly derogatory a semi-public administrative body with financial support from and senior appointments made by the government.
— ORIGIN acronym from quasi (or quasi-autonomous) non-governmental organization.
There is something distinctly dishonest about quangos. The government love them because they allow them to wield power and authority without messy little details like responsibility.
They are funded (at least in part) by the government which places them at least partly under government control and when it suits them they tend to carry the weight governmental authority, although when it suits them they are distanced. So one week Gordon Brown will be proudly bragging about the billions he has sunk in to youth development projects and the next week he will be saying that something wasn't his fault, it was those pesky folk at the independent commision for something-or-other.
I bring this up because while everybody has been all distracted with the visit of the Relics of St Therese, I've noticed the discreet birth of a quango for Catholic youth work in England and Wales.
The official Catholic Bishop's Conference agency for Catholic youth work was Catholic Youth Services until it was quietly dismantled under mysterious circumstances last november. At that time we were told that "research is to be carried out to determine the current provision for youth ministry within the Dioceses, and directions for further development" and that "This work will be carried out by an Interim Youth Ministry Co-ordinator under the supervision of Bishop Kieran Conry, within the Bishops' Department of Evangelisation and Catechesis"
So for the time being, the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales has no official agency for Youth Work.
This is where the quasi part kicks in...
The Catholic Youth Ministry Federation. Very official sounding don't you think? Read the blurb on their website...
The Catholic Youth Ministry Federation (CYMFed) exists to help shape and support Catholic Youth Ministry in England and Wales.
CYMFed is made up of 32 Dioceses and Catholic organisations working with young people in England and Wales. Within this federation there are numerous staff and volunteers - the ‘on the ground’ practitioners of youth ministry - who work with over 30,000 young people each year.
CYMFed is recognised and supported by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales.
I always thought that the Bishops Conference is the Dioceses of England and Wales coming together but, oh, silly me. Apparently when individual Dioceses pay people and those people come together "recognised and supported by the Catholic Bishop's Conference of England and Wales" that's something different and it's definitely not an agency of the Bishop's Conference.
A very cosy arrangement...
Elsewhere the CYMFed website reads...
CYMFed’s organisation is run by the principle officers of each diocese and organisation, who meet three times a year, and the Board which meets regularly. Bringing together the ‘on the ground’ practitioners of those working with young people in a Catholic context, CYMFed is the single most experienced and qualified body in the UK to hold, protect and further the vision of youth ministry.
So the usual suspects wander around playing the "supported by the Bishop's Conference card" which they will use to great effect to get all the sisters and brothers to come along and then when they get carried away and do something outrageous and people write to the Vatican the Bishop's Conference can say "Not me guvner".
Like I said, there's something distinctly dishonest about a quango. It's not an agency of the Bishop's conference but it sort of is, depending on what is convenient at the time.
They are organising a conference, sorry, a "National Congress for Catholics working with young people" this February. I wouldn't want you to think it's got anything to do with the Bishop's Conference of course, but Archbishop Vincent Nichols will be there.
What could possibly be wrong with something Archbishop Vincent Nichols supports?