British Catholics seek Vatican help to pray in church Indians use

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Preston Catholics (Credit:

Preston Catholics (Credit:

Preston: A group of Catholics barred from worshipping in their own church for the past seven months have written to the Vatican for help.

“Since we were closed down the bishop has re-opened the church to allow Indian Syro Malabar Catholics to hold a Sunday service there. If they can use it then why can’t we?” asks the 130-strong congregation of St Ignatius in Preston.

The church was locked out in November 2014 when the bishop of Lancaster ordered its closure.

The local Catholics want the prelate to have rethink.

A letter, signed by parishioner Ricci Pinto on behalf of the church flock, has urged the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy to intervene in the dispute.

“All we are asking for Reverent Fathers is to be allowed to have a Sunday Mass again and funerals,” says the letter.

“We pray that the Holy Spirit will give you the compassion to accede to our request.”

The St Ignatius regulars say they have turned to the Vatican after similar appeals to the Archbishop of Westminster and the Papal Nuncio were both turned down.

“Both say they cannot interfere in the diocese of a bishop,” explained leading campaigner Moira Cardwell. “As the bishop seems unwilling to change his mind, we have been forced to take our case to Rome. We are refusing to give up campaigning to have our Mass reinstated at St Ignatius. All we want is one service.

The Lancaster diocese ordered the closure of the 179-year-old Grade II Listed building due to falling congregations and a shortage of priests, reported.

At the time Bishop Michael Campbell said St Ignatius had been a victim of a decline in the Catholic Church in Preston city center.

In a letter to the Evening Post this week Cardwell writes: “Surely the bishop is not too proud to acknowledge that a mistake has been made and re-open St Ignatius to its loyal parishioners.”

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