Saturday, January 28, 2012

Campaigners in Westminster write to the Pope to prevent Pastoral Centre sale

Campaigners in the Archdiocese of Westminster in London have written to Pope Benedict XVI, asking him to intervene in the sale of a local pastoral centre.

The residents of Colney believe that the Archdiocese has agreed to sell the All Saints Pastoral Centre to developers for €9.5million and have called on the Pontiff to intervene in the sale.  

The residents have formed a group Save all Saints and in their letter to Pope Benedict point out that the centre was built in the 1920's for the All Saints Sisters, who were an Anglican order of nuns and was sold to the Archdiocese of Westminster in 1974 with an agreed covenant stating that any future sale would be to a purchaser who would ensure educational and religious continuity.

However according to the group, the Archdiocese has failed to be proactive in allowing the centre to flourish both spiritually and economically.  

The diocese has previously blamed the challenging economic situation for forcing it to sell the near 40-hectare site.  

Furthermore the letter accuses the diocese of accepting a deal for short term gain at the expense of long-term spiritual, practical and economic benefits, in keeping with the aims of the Catholic church and the spirit of last year's Papal visit to both England and Scotland. 

The letter states that this is an example of the Westminster diocese not only failing to practice what it preaches but also ignoring the essence of your message. 

Save All Saints spokesperson Peter Baker said that he hoped that, “The trustees of the diocese would have a change of heart, particularly if the Vatican intervened.”

The Auxiliary Bishop of Westminster, Bishop John Arnold, said that while change is never easy, All Saints did not meet with the pastoral needs of the church. 

"The clergy of the diocese have, for some time, been of the opinion that the upkeep and renovation of the centre was not a priority.  The reality is that few priests have used it for their ministry and the number of diocesan events been held there each year has been minimal.”