A traditionalist order has agreed to take over a landmark church in the Wirral that was closed for worship three years ago.
The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest (ICKSP) will establish its first house in England and Wales in Church of Ss Peter and Paul, New Brighton, later this year.
Bishop Mark Davies of Shrewsbury and the institute’s general prior, Mgr Gilles Wach, agreed to establish the foundation in the church, which was closed amid protests three years ago.
Under the auspices of the traditionalist institute, Ss Peter and St Paul’s will become a centre for the Extraordinary Form Mass. Mgr Wach’s institute, headquartered in Gricigliano, near Florence, was given pontifical approval as a Society of Apostolic Life in 2008 and celebrates the sacraments according to the older form of the Roman Rite.
They currently have no houses in England and Wales, but send over priests from Belgium to say Sunday Mass in four English dioceses.
Bishop Davies was approached by the institute last year and met Mgr Wach after Easter to negotiate establishing the foundation. He also consulted with his fellow bishops in the North of England, the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, and English Heritage about the Church’s future.
He re-opened the Dome of Home, as the Wirral Church is known, earlier this year after his predecessor closed it in 2008 as being too large and too costly to maintain.
After a concerted campaign by parishioners, the Vatican ruled in 2009 that the then Bishop Brian Noble had failed to follow the correct canonical procedure when closing the church. It later withdrew the ruling when it was assured that the parish’s move to a nearby Anglican parish was temporary.
A diocesan spokesman said: “The members of the institute will work in close collaboration with Fr Philip Moor, the parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Apostles and Martyrs, since it is the wish of Bishop Davies that this shrine church will express the harmony between the two usages of the one Roman Rite.
“As the Holy Father, Pope Benedict, reminded us in his 2007 Moto Proprio, Summorum Pontificum, ‘there is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal’, it is the sincere hope of the bishop that this establishment will foster reconciliation at the heart of the Church: one of the express aims of the 2007 papal document.
“Finally, the foundation will ensure that the patrimony of the church building so dear to Catholics and other members of the local community is secured and continues to bear witness to the faith and mission of the Church.”