Government throws England’s Catholic churches ‘lifeline’ grant for repairs

CNA Staff, Oct 13, 2020 / 12:00 pm (CNA).- An archbishop thanked the government Monday for awarding a “lifeline” grant to Catholic churches in England.

Archbishop George Stack, chairman of the English and Welsh bishops’ patrimony committee, said Oct. 12 that the money would offer new hope to congregations struggling to raise funds amid the pandemic. 

“We are hugely grateful for this magnificent award. With our churches closed during lockdown, many planned repair projects were unable to go ahead. Other churches have simply not had the resources to carry out much-needed repairs,” said Stack, the archbishop of Cardiff.

The Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales was one of 445 organizations named Oct. 9 as qualifying for support from the government’s $2 billion fund to help the arts, culture, and heritage sectors during the coronavirus crisis.

The Catholic Trust for England and Wales, the legal entity for the bishops’ conference, will receive almost $4 million from the Heritage Stimulus Fund. 

The money will go to Catholic churches listed as either Grade I and II*, meaning that they are considered of “exceptional interest” or particular importance respectively. The funds will not only allow churches to complete essential repairs, but also to remain open for their congregations and other visitors.

A related fund — the Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage — will also distribute grants to Catholic churches.

The Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King in Liverpool, a Grade II*-listed building, will receive around $600,000. The cathedral, which has a distinctive conical design, has suffered from architectural problems ever since it was completed in 1967. 

Westminster Cathedral, the Grade I-listed mother church of Catholics in England and Wales, will receive almost $250,000. The award will be a relief for officials at the cathedral in central London, who said in April that the pandemic could have a “catastrophic effect” on its finances.

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