Plymouth diocese plans church closures

 A reorganisation of the Catholic Church in Devon and Cornwall will mean the sale of several churches, Plymouth Diocese confirmed yesterday. Fifteen parishes in Cornwall will be amalgamated into nine, while 34 parishes in Devon will be cut to 23. Some parishes will lose their church building while in others a parish priest will serve more than one church. Plymouth Diocese spokesman Michael Fay said: "Some churches will be closed but some parish priests will serve more than one church. There will be no wholesale closure of churches." Monsignor Robert Draper, Vicar General of the Plymouth Diocese, told the BBC: "After World War II many people moved out of Plymouth, but many of our churches and parishes remain in the city. In a way they are out of place, so we have to consider which buildings are serving a purpose and which have the heritage and are serving the community. "It will be painful, but it is also important that we release some of the resources for other aspects of the church's life." A parishioner from Plymouth told ICN: "It sounds as though the diocese is listening to accountants rather than thinking of its mission. Closures will have a devastating effect on some parish communities. I feel the diocese should try to keep the church buildings if at all possible - even if they are just used by lay Catholic groups. Once the buildings have gone it will be difficult to replace them. Ironically, in the last couple of years we've seen an influx of Eastern European Catholics who are certainly increasing parisioner numbers. "

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