Archbishop Leo Cushley of St Andrews and Edinburgh has scaled back plans to close up to 70 churches after a consultation with parishioners.

In 2015 the archbishop announced a drastic shake-up of parishes, saying that by 2020 the diocese would only have 33 priests ministering to 103 parishes. Reports at the same time suggested the number of parishes would be reduced to about 30. But the diocese has now said proposals to close a “significant” number of churches have been rejected following a two-year consultation.

The archbishop said: “If you choose to consult with parishioners and priests, then you have to listen to what they are saying and, in this instance, I was happy to be persuaded by the case that was made to me by many of our people and clergy.

“The fact is, people are very attached to their local churches and have expressed a wish in many places to keep them.”

Plans are yet to be finalised but the diocese said that fewer parishes would be closed than first envisaged, leaving about 60 rather than the 30 that media reports suggested.

But the diocese said that not every church would have Mass each Sunday, with some parishioners having to travel elsewhere.

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