Relegating The Church of Holy Cross, Dean Lane Bedminster
to Profane but not Sordid Use
and Suspension of Pastoral Activity
Holy Cross Parish was established in 1872 and the present church was consecrated in 1922. Since its Solemn dedication the parish of Holy Cross has functioned as the spiritual home for many generations of families and for the celebration of the Most Holy Eucharistic and the sacraments of the church. Naturally, at this time we remember fondly those who have gone before us and worked to make the parish a living community of faith. We commend them to the Lord. We are conscious of those who have been part of the life and history of Holy Cross, both priests, people and those who continue to live out their faith bearing witness to Christ today. During that time, the Christian faithful have heard the Word of God, have worshiped and have received the sacraments. In recent years it has become more difficult for the parish community to meet the substantial costs of maintaining the church building, whilst at the same time having to face a large increase in the dayto-day costs associated with running a parish. Now, in an effort to strengthen the preaching of the Gospel and to ensure the vitality of parish life, with concern for the best stewardship of resources and the right of the People of God to receive assistance from the Church, especially the Word of God, spiritual sustenance and the sacraments, it is necessary to make new provisions for the spiritual care of the parishioners of Holy Cross.
Having heard and read the opinions of the parishioners of Holy Cross and the Parochial Administrator, and having consulted with the Bishop’s Council, the Trustees of the Diocese of Clifton and furthermore having raised the matter with the Council of Priests for discussion and comment and having heard their decision: I, The Right Reverend Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton, after much personal prayer and reflection, with some sadness and in accordance with canon 1222 §2, of the Codex Iuris Canonici 1983, do hereby decree that the parish Church of Holy Cross, Dean Lane, Bedminster, Bristol, BS3 IDB be canonically closed and no longer used for divine worship effective from this day 27th February 2022. Furthermore, I decree that all pastoral activity shall be suspended from the aforementioned date to allow for a period of prayer and reflection upon how best, given the resources at my disposal, the pastoral needs of the parish community can be served. This process of prayer and discernment will continue until the 30th April 2022 after which time a decision on how the pastoral needs of the faithful of Holy Cross will be met. In the meantime, the parish community of Holy Cross are to be directed to the parish of St Gerard Majella, Knowle, for the celebration Mass and for their sacramental and pastoral needs.
The reasons for this action are:
A comprehensive report concerning the structural integrity of the building was completed in 2018 by a reputable and independent firm that revealed the need for extensive structural repair to Holy Cross Church in order that it would be a safe place to worship. The costs of these works is now in excess of £1,750,000.
The members of Holy Cross regularly attending Mass is relatively small, being in the region of 80 – 100 people including children. Given the size of the parish community and the cost of the works needed, it is evident that the immediate financial demands on the parish community would be significant and unachievable. It would be an unrealistic expectation for such a small parish to be burdened with the potential repayment of any loan, potentially placing the parish in debt for decades to come. There are no other sources of income for funding to support the required works from any public or private body.
The closure of Holy Cross Church will not leave those living within the territory of the parish without reasonable access to a Catholic church for the celebration of the Eucharist and other sacraments. A number of surrounding parishes remain accessible.
The serious and grave reasons that have motivated this decision have been presented in full to those concerned, particularly, the Trustees, the Bishop’s Council and the Council of priests. It is clear that Holy Cross Parish would be unable to provide for the ongoing maintenance and upkeep and the necessary and urgent repairs to Holy Cross Church. The resources of the Diocese of Clifton are insufficient for preserving and maintaining the church. The shortage of priests and the Bishop’s concern for the spiritual good of the faithful within his Diocese must also be considered, as should the most appropriate use of resources both human and material.
Furthermore, I give leave to those within the diocesan curia charged with the administration of temporal matters to cooperate and assist the parish priest of the parish who will assume the pastoral responsibility entrusted to them by me, (N.B. It is only for the parish priest after whatever consultation he deems necessary, to oversee the disposal of all ecclesiastical goods pertaining to the former parish of Holy Cross) to dispose of Holy Cross Church and the entire property on which it is situated, being mindful to observe faithfully, the requirements of canon law when relegating a church building to profane but not sordid use, (i.e. the new building/s should be for purposes not contrary to the teaching, ideals and spiritual values of the Catholic Church), and the pertinent civil laws in this regard and the established provisions of the Codex Iuris Canonici 1983 concerning the alienation of temporal goods.
I further direct and, in accordance with canon 121, decree that the proceeds from the sale of the land on which Holy Cross Church is situated, and all ecclesiastical goods obtains and belongs in full to the canonically established parish or parishes into which Holy Cross will be amalgamated, whilst the wishes of founders and benefactors where canonically established have been duly regarded and taken into consideration.
The provisions of this decree shall be effective, all things to the contrary notwithstanding, with the promulgation of the said decree to all interested persons at the parish Sunday Mass on the Eighth Sunday in Ordinary time, 27th February 2022 and to be made available on the Clifton Diocesan Website.
Before hierarchical recourse (appeal) may be taken against this decree, a written, signed, and dated petition to reconsider or amend the decree, must be sent or delivered to the Bishop of Clifton within ten (10) useful (working days) from the notification of the decree (Codex Iuris Canonici 1983 canons 1734, 1735, 1737) at St Ambrose, North Road, Leigh Woods, Bristol BS8 3PW.
Given at Clifton this 22nd day of February, The Feast of the Chair of St Peter the Apostle, in the Year of Our Lord 2022.
Right Reverend Declan Lang, Bishop of Clifton
Fr George Henwood, Chancellor