BY SCO Admin | February 5 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print

11-Cushley

Majority of St Andrews and Edinburgh parishes face closure

Archbishop Leo Cushley’s letter to deans on parish reduction to 30 has been read to parishioners over last few weeks

Archbishop Leo Cushley (above) has announced the lion’s share of parishes in St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese ultimately face closure under new draft proposals as clergy numbers fall, with the first changes due by the end of the year.

In a letter to the deans of the archdiocese, Archbishop Cushley writes the re-allocation of pastoral care will be an ‘painful and unpleasant’ task, but the number of priests in the archdiocese meant that be the end of the process there would be just 30 parishes left by 2035. The archdiocesan website currently lists 113 active parishes on its website.

The archbishop says in his letter that since coming to the archdiocese he had found a ‘consensus close to unanimity’ that ‘we cannot continue to maintain the present numbers of parishes.’

“This is due to a lack of priests, a drop in income and the fall in numbers attending Mass,” he adds. “It is an unpleasant task, but it nevertheless falls to our generation to look hard at our present situation, to establish what may now be done for the good of the diocese as a whole, and how best to serve our people through the regular provision of the Sunday Eucharist and the celebration of the Sacraments in a way that our number of priests and our finances realistically permit.”

The archbishop says his projections suggests the archdiocese could count on having 30 or so diocesan clergymen in 2035 which ‘means that we will have an average of 6 diocesan priests per deanery.’

“I will of course be looking for ways to promote vocations to the priesthood, inviting foreign priests to assist us,” he writes. “However, both ways of obtaining priests remain beyond our control so we must look, at least in principle, to self-reliance.”

“Your draft proposal to me, therefore, must aim at the creation of six parishes in each deanery, so that, at the end of this exercise, we have a total of some 30 parishes or so throughout the diocese,” he said. “I am all too aware how painful and difficult it will be for us to arrive at this figure. But the spiritual and pastoral advantages would also be notable, in that we would have fewer, larger, stronger parishes with at least one priest at their heart.”

The archbishop said that this was ‘the most important discernment in the pastoral life of our local church for a generation’ so everyone involved the Church had to be involved.

“It will affect us all and so it must be carried out with honesty and charity, but also with courage and magnanimity. It is therefore only right that the people know what is being done in this regard,” he said. “ In due course, everyone in every deanery and parish will have an opportunity to put his or her views to me in an appropriate fashion.”

St Andrews and Edinburgh Archdiocese is the latest Scottish diocese to face tough decisions on future use of resources. Archbishop Philip Tartaglia released draft proposals—including potential parish closures—for Glasgow Archdiocese last year as Glasgow faced up to the problems more rural Scottish diocese have had to contend with for some time with of priests taking care of more than one parish and, in some cases, falling congregation sizes.

 

—ian@sconews.co.uk

 

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