Archive dispute

Mr Peter Kearney’s selective use of information regarding the funding of the Scottish Catholic Archives (Letters, 31 May) is deeply worrying.

He refers to the funds of only one trust. In fact, as Mr Kearney and his employers must know, other trusts (the Father Anderson Bequest and the Sir John Menzies of Pitfoddels Trust) continue to support the archives, and publicly available accounts show this well exceeded the costs described by Mr Kearney (for example, the Menzies Trust gave for the support of the archives in 2008-09, £98,021; in 2009-10, £155,253). More recent figures are not yet available, but we know nothing to suggest a radical change in such support. That the bishops undertake to support the archives should such trust income fail is, in any case, only proper; but so far that seems not to be the actual situation.

Leaving aside his outrageous aspersions on those opposing the plans as acting against “the interests of those who seek to promote genuine scholarship and research” (a strange charge for a church spokesman to impute to some of Scotland’s senior academics), his letter lacks logic.

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Even under the Archbishop of Glasgow’s current plans for the archives, the costs of a professional archival service will still be there, whether the funding comes from the collection plate or, as at present, from trust income.

Anyway, the financing of the new multi-million pound Bishops’ Conference headquarters is, we take it, largely from the collection plate? As, we presume, is Mr Kearney’s own Scottish Catholic Media Office?

(Prof) Thomas Owen Clancy & Darren Tierney

University Gardens


I am most grateful for Mr Peter Kearney’s explanation of the funding problems which the Bishops’ Conference of Scotland has had to face over the Scottish Catholic Archives.

In the wake of the credit crunch the Father Anderson Bequest undoubtedly has suffered a fall in value, but the Columba Trust, which administers the bequest, continues to provide the funding to the bishops that it originally did before the Bishops’ Conference decided to take over the financing of the Scottish Catholic Archives.

Hence the Columba Trust funding has also to be put into the equation. Additionally, the John Menzies of Pitfoddels Trust meets the current shortfall from the Father Anderson Bequest.

On the question of the funding of the Scottish Catholic Archives, it is worth noting that in the 1882, Dr John Carmont, a Scottish priest, trained at the Scots College, Rome, took the Scottish bishops to the Court of Session over the way they had divided Captain Thomas Mitchell’s Trust – and won.

Bishops generally act wisely, but they can make mistakes, however unintentionally.

Michael Turnbull

Orchard Court

Longniddry, East Lothian