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The president of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has urged President Reagan to reject the parts of the Treasury Department's tax-reform proposal that could reduce the incentive for individuals to give to private charitable, educational, and religious agencies.

In a recent letter, Bishop James Malone of Youngstown, Ohio, told the President that now is not the time "for the federal government to take money away from private charity."

The Catholic Church in the United States maintains 237 colleges and universities, more than 1,500 high schools, and 8,000 elementary schools. In addition, the church operates 710 hospitals, 121 nursing schools, 560 homes for invalids, and 190 orphanages and infant asylums. This charitable work is supported primarily through voluntary giving, according to the letter.

Changes in the tax treatment of charitable donations contained in the Treasury Department proposal "can have the result of reducing the support of private charity and impairing the ability of donors to continue their generosity," the Bishop argued.

He cited a study commissioned by Independent Sector, an umbrella organization for 600 nonprofit institutions, that estimates that the tax plan would result in a 20 percent, or $13-billion, decline in the annual income of private charities from contributions.

The Metropolitan Life Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, has launched a four-year, $4-million program to promote health education in the nation's schools.

The purpose of the program, which will be financed by the foundation, is "to promote comprehensive health education in the schools, not just drug or alcohol related education," said Elisabeth J. Gabrynowicz, spokesman for Metropolitan Life.

In its first year, the program, entitled "Healthy Me," will award grants to schools that already have what are deemed to be "excellent" health-education programs, Ms. Gabrynowicz said. After the initial year, grants will be given to help selected schools start such programs and aid individual teachers who seek further training in health education, she said.

An undetermined amount of the program's funding will be spent developing materials to enhance health-education curricula, Ms. Gabrynowicz said.

The award recipients will be determined by a committee of 10 health professionals, headed by Marian V. Hamburg, chairman of the department of health education at New York University.

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