Roman Catholic fury at sale of historic library - News - The Independent

Roman Catholic fury at sale of historic library

Some of Britain's most notable Roman Catholic writers are joining forces to save a historic collection of books which is about to be broken up.

The Catholic Central Library contains a collection of rare 18th-and 19th-century pamphlets as well as first editions of works by Catholic writers such as Evelyn Waugh, GK Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, Mgr Ronald Knox and Gerard Manley Hopkins.

It is to be closed on Tuesday after a decision was made to sell off its premises in London.

Novelists Piers Paul Read and Alice Thomas Ellis and the Catholic politicians Lord Longford and Lord Alton have all expressed dismay at the closure of the library, which opened in 1959, behind Westminster Cathedral. The dispersal of its 65,000 volumes was described by Ms Thomas Ellis as "an absolute scandal which is being repeated in libraries all over the country. Great works are just being consigned to the rubbish skip."

The library, which has more than 1,000 subscribers and a valuable reference section and reading room, has been run by the Franciscan Friars of the Atonement, a New York-based religious order, which says it has been forced to give it up by financial pressures.

In a letter to the subscribers, Cardinal Basil Hume, Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster and head of the English Catholic Church, said: "I have made further attempts to preserve the library in its present state, but have failed... I could not risk launching an appeal which I believe would not have been successful."

But several prominent Catholics and subscribers say they were not fully consulted over the closure and sale, and are keen to set up a trust to ensure that the collection remains intact. If they fail, the collection is likely to be split between Allen Hall, a Roman Catholic seminary in Chelsea, and Heythrop College, part of London University.

Lord Alton, the former Liberal Democrat MP David Alton, described the loss of the library as "an unmitigated tragedy" and"criminal folly". He said: "This historical collection will be dismembered and made inaccessible to the public. Given the renewed interest in the Catholic novel, it would be an unmitigated disaster. It is madness to allow a building in the heart of London to disappear."

Piers Paul Read said: "The great thing about the library was that it was open to all Catholics. I doubt if ordinary Catholics will have access to a place like Heythrop College."

Fr Ian Ker, a Catholic priest and Cardinal Newman biographer, described the situation as an "absolute cock-up" and added: "The big mistake was handing control of the library to the Cardinal. The Friars showed a naivety which is typical of religious orders; they should have turned to the subscribers."

Westminster Cathedral sources hit back. One said: "The running costs of the library are nearly pounds 100,000 a year. You need to employ two or three staff full-time. It is a lot of money. These people should put money where their mouth is."

News
John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
News
peopleThe report and photo dedicated to the actress’s decolletage has, unsurprisingly, provoked anger
Property
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The programme sees four specialists creating what they believe are three perfect couples, based on scientific matchmaking. The couples will not meet until they walk down the aisle together
tvUK wedding show jilted
Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
Sport
Mikel Arteta pictured during Borussia Dortmund vs Arsenal
champions league
Voices
Yes supporters gather outside the Usher Hall, which is hosting a Night for Scotland in Edinburgh
voicesBen Judah: Is there a third option for England and Scotland that keeps everyone happy?
Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

HR Manager - Kent - £45,000

£40000 - £45000 per annum: Ashdown Group: HR Manager / Training Manager (L&D /...

Senior QA Engineer - Agile, SCRUM

£35000 - £50000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior QA Engineer (Agil...

Marketing Executive - West Midlands - £28,000

£26000 - £28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Digital Marketing Executive (SEO, PP...

Retail Business Analyst

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our retail client ...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week