Trocaire rejects criticism of funding policy

 

The Catholic aid agency Trócaire has rejected criticism of its operations by an Irish missionary priest who says he is unable to receive funding from it for pastoral projects.

Father Kevin O'Mahony, a White Father missionary working in Ethiopia, asked why Trócaire, as an "institute of the Irish hierarchy", refused to assist Irish missionaries "in terms of pastoral duties, which is a service of the people".

Father O'Mahony, a native of Co Cork, who is on a short visit home, said that when his family in Ireland donated money to Trócaire's Lenten appeal "they presumed it was going also to assist any kind of project or request presented by an Irish missionary without any exclusion of anything".

But, he said, it would be "useless" asking Trócaire to fund, for instance, the rebuilding of a church damaged in an earthquake. He had been forced recently to turn to a Swiss charity to support the publication of a catechismal text.

Trócaire's director, Mr Justin Kilcullen, responded by saying that it was never in the agency's remit to fund "purely pastoral work". He said that when Trócaire was established there would have been a "very clear distinction" between pastoral and development work. But, as the church evolved and the role of Irish missionaries changed, whereby they were now "very much in a support role" to the local church, that distinction was "more clouded".

He added: "We are not established to build churches or fund missionary work in terms of supporting sacramental work." But the agency did support missionary projects "with a strong social dimension".