Parishioners at St Thomas More's church in West Malling, Kent, were told shortly before Christmas that the Archdiocese of Southwark were planning to put their church and other buildings up for sale in the Spring. Later the Archdiocese issued the following Tweet:
'We would like to add that the parish itself is not being closed, but there may be need for nearby relocation in due course . We thank the whole parish sincerely for their patience and goodwill as we try to find the best way forward for all concerned.'
One reader sends this comment on the tweet:
While we appreciate that the plans do not include the proposed closure of the "parish", the relocation to an Anglican church, for instance, is a significant change and would impact severely on the community as a whole.
Many in the parish will vote with their feet, and the "parish" as we know it, will possibly no longer exist. In addition, your proposals have caused a great deal of concern amongst local residents in West Malling which has a rich history, both secular and spiritual.
In addition there is future uncertainty about the pre-school which operates from the recently renovated stable block. Parishioners contributed, with supreme effort, most using Gift Aid, some £85,000 for the specific purpose of facilitating the provision of a pre-school and creating a space for group activities. Parishioners have a right to be concerned. In any future relocation the pre-school staff will fear for their jobs, and indeed be wondering whether the pre-school will continue at all.
I am sure that you are aware that under canon law a parish and a church are defined as separate entities:-
- a parish is a stable community of the faithful
- a church is a sacred building designated for divine worship where the faithful have "the right of entry."
- The two types of entities are closed by different procedures and involve different consultations. A bishop must have a "just" reason to restructure a parish, but he must have a "grave" reason to close a church.
The parishioners have the right to know what these grave reasons are. The true history of the decision-making process is yet to be made public.
We trust that this will be remedied very soon with open and honest explanations.
Archdiocese of Southwark statement on Parish of St Thomas More, West Malling - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38714
Kent parish fight to save their church from closure - www.indcatholicnews.com/news/38632
Kent online video report - www.kentonline.co.uk/malling/news/church-and-pre-school-go-up-for-sale-219198/
We Need Your Support
ICN aims to provide speedy and accurate news coverage of all subjects of interest to Catholics and the wider Christian community. As our audience increases - so do our costs. We need your help to continue this work.
Please support our journalism by donating today.Donate