The Bishop of Wrexham has said that the closure of 22 churches across his diocese is a “huge opportunity for renewal”.
In a pastoral letter to the diocese, Bishop Peter Brignall announced that he plans to shut 22 out of the current 62 Catholic churches by 2020. He wrote: “To some it will be shocking, to others not radical enough; to some it will come as a relief, to others a disappointment or even a scandal; to us all it will be a challenge, but I firmly believe also a huge opportunity for renewal.
“It will mean pastors and communities will have to look afresh at how we live parish life, how the Catholic Church in north Wales is profoundly missionary.”
Bishop Brignall said that some of the changes would begin in the next few weeks. He said: “Churches are going to be closed and I hope some new ones built; parishes are going to be suppressed and new ones established, and some Mass times will be altered. Not all of this will happen at once, but some of it will happen immediately, ie within weeks.”
Bishop Brignall asked Catholics to approach the decision with a “generous heart and a steadfast faith”. He said: “I said at the outset of this reorganisation and restructuring, my intent was to ensure that in each of the remaining churches of the diocese Sunday Mass would be celebrated every Sunday of the year.
“On present calculations, by 2020 the number of under-retirement-age priests will be 22; therefore to achieve my intention there need be around only 40 churches, not the 62 there currently are. Many of the details and consequences of closures and reorganisation cannot be worked out beforehand and can only be faced in the reality of the new situation, and so I ask you to approach this with a generous heart and steadfast faith.”