Court battle looms to save “Dome of Home” in New Brighton A HIGH Court battle is on the horizon for campaigners aiming to have a landmark church in Wirral re-opened.Campaigners trying to save Ss Peter and Paul’s Catholic church, in New Brighton, have announced they will be starting legal proceedings, after the diocese refused to re-open the church despite a ruling from the Vatican.
Pressure group SOUL (Save Our Unique Landmark), took their battle against the diocese to the Vatican where the Congregation of the Clergy returned a critical verdict on the closure.
Those fighting the closure say they had been assured that the diocese would abide by the Congregation of the Clergy’s decision.
In a statement, SOUL said: “Shrewsbury Diocese, under concerted pressure and to the astonishment of parishioners, has finally confirmed its position that it will not abide by its written pledge to ‘be bound by the decision of the Congregation in Rome’ and that it will not be re-opening the Church of Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton.
“Parishioners of Ss Peter and Paul’s will be instigating legal proceedings to ensure the validation of the unequivocal decision of the Vatican as set out in the attached Decree from the Congregation for the Clergy in Rome.”
Ss Peter and Paul’s was shut last year despite the majority of parishioners saying they wanted it to remain open.
The diocese forced the closure, saying the church – which became known to sailors as the “Dome of Home” – was too large for the congregation.
Paul Hayes, Conservative councillor for Wallasey, said the Vatican’s ruling “is unprecedented in its criticism of the Diocese of Shrewsbury and it is unequivocal in its assertion that, in closing the iconic church of Saint Peter and Paul’s, the Diocese has broken church law”.
“The Diocese may cling onto the fact that the decree declares they have stuck to the rules in terms of procedure, however we all know that church law is much more than a set of procedural rules. The decree is quite clear that by closing the church a negative impact has been made upon the "good of souls" and therefore church law has been broken.
“As the Diocese assured parishioners via a written undertaking that they would abide by the decision of the Vatican, the church doors should now be open. However, it is clear that the Diocese will not honour their undertaking and therefore I am fully supportive of moves by parishioners to launch the further legal action to ensure the Diocese abides by their written agreements.”
But Fr John Joyce, spokesman for the Diocese of Shrewsbury, said they had received the communication of the Vatican Congregation for the Clergy “confirming that the procedures for closing the church of Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, were carried out correctly”.
He said: “In addition, it also notes that the primary concern, which it shares, is that the Catholic community should have a permanent place of worship.
“Everything will be done to achieve this objective.” THE DAILY POST