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:
"The Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and Wales is a permanent body within the organisation of the Catholic Church that brings together the Bishops of England and Wales. As a Conference the Bishops "jointly exercise certain pastoral functions for the Christian faithful... in order to promote the greater good which the Church offers to humanity, especially through forms and programs of the apostolate fittingly adapted to the circumstances of time and place" (cf. Code of Canon Law can 447).
The departments of CaTEW identify the present broad areas of activity for the Bishops in supporting the Dioceses of England and Wales and witnessing to the Gospel in the contemporary world: Catholic Education and Formation, Christian Life and Worship, Christian Responsibility and Citizenship, Dialogue and Unity, Evangelisation and Catechesis and International Affairs."
In other words there are six departments, and these are adminstered through other charities which spend the money the dioceses provide each year:
"As the administrative arm of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, the Trust has close links with the Diocesan charities. through which the annual assessments are made. The Trust relates to the charities of religious congregations within the Conference of Religious, particularly through its provision of the administrative, legal, human resource and financial management for the Catholic Safeguarding Advisory Service (CSAS). The Trust also relates closely to those agencies of the Bishops' Conference that exist as independent charities. The main ones being the Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD), the Catholic Education Service, Caritas-Social Action Network, the Pontifical Mission Societies, the Catholic Agency for Racial Justice and the Apostleship of the Sea. The Trust provides office accommodation for the National Justice and Peace Network, CTBI and CMA."
If you know how to read this, the story becomes clear. The Bishops' Conference is the Catholic Church in England and Wales, and the dioceses exist as geographical sub-units whose purpose is to adminster at local level such services as are delegated to them and to raise money for the Conference to allocate amongst its priorities. (You may think that this gives quite a clue as to why and how so many things have gone quite so wrong in the last few lustres, but that isn't the point of this piece.)
Now, English law being English law, the charitable trusts administering all of this activity have to satisfy English law, and one of the things they have to satisfy is transparency in their accounting. The good thing for the bureaucracy-watcher is that the accounts are on line (once submitted) and contain all manner of interesting detail about what the priorities of the Bishops' Conference really are - but again, that's not the point of this piece.
Arma virumque cano: the aims of the trusts and the money which keeps them going are the arms, but who are the men? English law being English law, each charitable trust needs trustees, people who will take responsibility for the charity's proper discharge of its functions and the honesty of its accounts, and the Catholic Church being the Catholic Church, the money will only be placed in the trust of people whom the Conference trusts.
And thus we start to uncover the Magic Circle: whom does the Conference of Bishops trust sufficiently to oversee the administration of the money it receives for the ends it wills? This is only part of the story: as any Spaniard will tell you: no son todos los que están, ni están todos los que son; not everybody on the list is influential, nor is everybody who is influential on the list. But here are people chosen by the Hierarchy to look after the Hierarchy's interests and ambitions: that is a definition of the magic circle. This isn't some Hollwood vision of Opus Dei: the list is of good Catholics who want to help advance the cause of their religion in England and Wales and who therefore have a standing different to the important people in, for example, the Tablet Trust: they might be influential in other spheres, but they don't have access to the levers of control. The list of influential Catholics might be another study.
Of note is that almost none of the lay people or priests and religious served on more than one Board of Trustees.
An important caveat: this list is as accurate as the website of the Charities Commission and the uptodateness of the accounts submitted to it. It includes names around at present and the last time accounts were submitted. It doesn't pretend to be accurate as to the detail of who's doing what now: it simply names people who have gladly lent a hand with their knowledge and special skills. I have tried where possible to identify clergy and religious, but I'm not necessarily completely accurate. I've added members of management teams where the Trusts have chosen to identify them as significant members of staff.
Bear in mind that I work for a living: I'm not an investigative journalist. This is a start, not an end.
I'll list the Bishops separately because the list says everything that needs to be said about which Bishops' hands are on which tillers.
Nichols, Arnold, Brain, Budd, Burns, Conry, Drainey, Hollis, Lang, Lynch, McMahon OP, Rawsthorne, Regan, Roche.
Bishops,Clergy, Religious and Lay People by Charitable Trust:
Apostleship of the Sea
Mgr Ronnie Brown, Bishop Thomas Burns, Mrs Louise Carter, Capt Simon Culshaw, Mr Eamonn Delaney, Capt Kevin Doyle, Mr Charles Goldie, Bishop Peter Moran, Rev Stephen Morgan, Capt Paul Quinn OBE, Capt David Savage, Mr Juvenal Shiundu, Mr Walter Voelke, Professor Mark Watson-Gandy
Mr Robert Archer, Bishop John Arnold, Mr Chris Bain, Bishop Kieran Conry, Miss Jenny Cosgrave, Miss Clare Gardner, Mr Dominic Jermey OBE, Noreen Lockhart, Mr Mark MacGreevy, Mrs Margaret Mwaniki, Ms Catherine Newman QC, Ms Mary Ney, Mr Tom O'Connor, Mr Geoff O'Donohue, Fr James O'Keefe, Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP, Bishop Rawsthorne, Mr Charles Reeve-Tucker, Miss Victoria Santer, Mr James Steel, Mr Neil Thomas, Fr Frank Turner SJ, Mr Nicholas Warren, Barbara Wilson
Catholic Association for Racial Justice
Ms Rosie Bairwal, Mr Haynes Baptiste, Mr Antony Benchilas, Ms Doreen Clouden, Bishop Kieran Conry, Ms Maureen Corsi, Mr Eugene Culas, Miss Nikki Fashola, Mrs Margaret-Ann Fisken, Mr Don Flynn, Mrs Rita Forster, Mr Malcolm Forster, Ms Charlene Fraser, Fr Howard James, Mr Tony Lobo KSG, Bishop Patrick Lynch, Mrs Sue Smailes, Mrs Yogi Sutton, Mrs Cecilia Taylor-Cameron, Professor Protasia Torkington, Mr Richard Zipfel
Catholic Trust for England and Wales
Mr Ben Andradi, Ms Alison Cowdall, Mr Alexander DesForges, Mgr Andrew Faley, Mr Laurence Fenton, Mr John Gibbs, Michaela Kelly, Mr Peter Lomas, Mgr Michael McKenna, Bishop Malcolm McMahon OP, Sarah Pearson, Canon Nicholas Rothon, Mr David Ryall, Mr Robin Smith, Dr Marcus Stock, Mgr Andrew Summersgill, Lorraine Welch, Dr James Whiston, Mr Charles Wookey
Catholic Education Service
Bishop Malcolm McMahon, Bishop Edwin Regan, Ms Oona Stannard
Catholic Marriage Care
Ms Sue Burridge, Mr Tony Cabourn-Smith, Canon Michael Cooley, Mrs Freda Lambert, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Mr Hugh Parry, Mr Charles Perryman, Mrs Judith Schmidt, Mr Andrew von Speyr, Fr Philip White, Mrs Sheila Wright
Catholic Missionary Union
Fr Denis Carter, Fr Brian Creak, Mr Paul Crowe, Mr Seamus Crowe, Fr John Dale, Ms Alice Davidson, Fr Derek Laverty, Sr Maura Lyden, Fr Robert Morland, Fr Patrick McGuire, Sr Daphne Norden, Bro Daniel Walsh
Caritas - Social Action
Bishop Terence Brain, Bishop Christopher Budd, Mr Terence Connor, Ms Cathy Corcoran OBE, Mr James Cullen, Margaret Dight OBE, Philippa Gitlin, Mr Andrew Haines, Bishop Crispian Hollis, Bishop Kenney, Fr Bernard Wilson, Polly Neate
National Justice and Peace Network
Mr Kevin Burr, Mr Michael Clarke, Mrs Alison Gelder, Fr Peter Hughes, Mrs Maria Malson, Ms Diana Mills, Mrs Anne Peacey, Mr Michael Prentice, Ms Enright Read, Mrs Elizabeth Rendall, Bro Edward Slawinski
Fr John Dale, Canon William Davern, Canon John Devane, Mr Edward Kirwin, Bishop Declan Lang, Canon Brendan MacCarthy, Mrs Fran Thomas, Mr Nicholas van der Borgh
Fr Gary Brassington, Bishop Terence Drainey, Fr Anthony Joyce, Fr Michael Kujacz, Mr Peter Lomas, Mr Steve McCoy, Archbishop Vincent Nichols, Bishop Arthur Roche, Mgr Nicholas Rothon