'Every time I visit a country (Belgium, usually) which obliges its hoteliers to ask rude and impertinent questions of their guests, I answer the question about my employment status as "Bureaucrat". This is mainly to annoy, but it has the virtue also of being true: I work in a bureaucracy, and I understand bureaucracy. Bureaucracies other than mine are always worth studying as so often the shape and structure of the bureaucracy are a clue to the way in which deeper currents are moving.
The bureaucracy of the Church in England and Wales is not totally opaque, but it isn't very transparent either. The diocesan websites tell a story, as does the website of the Bishops' Conference, but they are a narrative for a particular purpose, a noble purpose: how the Church is organised to bring Christ's offer of salvation to the people of this country. (OK, there's a lot about the Third World and Fairtrade as well, but bear with me.)
Of more interest to me are the bureaucratic structures which allow the Church to support itself, and to live out its vocation by doing God's work. This being England and Wales, the bureaucracy of the Church is organised in a series of charities, charitable status being an excellent way of keeping money donated for good works away from the clutches of the State.
The main charity is the Catholic Trust for England and Wales (CaTEW): this is the Charity which receives the diocesan assessments from England and Wales and spends them on behalf of the Conference. The Trust defines the role of the Bishops' Conference as follows:
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