Cathedral plan for Lancashire church

The Pope has declared a formerly closed Lancashire church a cathedral for Indian Catholics '“ one of only three worldwide.

Friday, 29th July 2016, 10:11 am
Updated Friday, 29th July 2016, 11:14 am
St Ignatius Church in Preston

St Ignatius Church in Preston closed in 2014 after its congregation dwindled, but it reopened later as a parish church for the Syro Malabar community of Indian Catholics.

Now Pope Francis has created it a cathedral, saying that it would get its own bishop to serve its special diocese.

Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster Diocese, which covers Preston, said he welcomed “this exciting news”.

It is a church with a long and turbulent history, and the last few years alone have seen it closing down, reopening and witnessing angry protests outside.

But now Pope Francis has given Preston’s St Ignatius church a very special honour – making it one of only three cathedrals in the world for the Indian Catholic community. The Vatican announced yesterday that Pope Francis has formally established a new eparchy – similar to a diocese – for Indian Catholics in the city, one of just three worldwide.

The new Eparchy will have St Ignatius as its Cathedral Church. Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster said: “I welcome this exciting news and in particular Bishop Srampickal as the first Bishop of the Eparchy of the Syro-Malabars in Great Britain.

“I look forward to working with him as a close colleague and friend while he has care of his brothers and sisters throughout the whole country.”

Bishop Campbell added that the establishment of the new Eparchy was “a clear indication of the care of the Holy See for the thousands of Syro-Malabar Catholics who have settled in Great Britain”.

“I am particularly pleased that the seat of the new Eparchy will be the wonderful St Ignatius Church.”

The Vatican said the Holy Father was happy to give the new diocese to Great Britain, after learning of the large number of Syro-Malabar faithful living in the UK.

It said it was “important for them to have the official support and structures of their Church”.

The other two dioceses of the Syro Malabar Catholic Church outside of India are in the United States (founded in 2011) and Australia (founded in 2014).

The city centre St Ignatius Church was closed in 2014 after suffering a dwindling congregation.

Regular attendees of the 180-year-old