The Catholic Diocese of Shrewsbury, England, is in negotiations with the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest – a Catholic order that propagates the Latin Mass - to re-open a landmark church in the borough of Wirral. Located in northwest England along the Mersey River and adjacent to Wales, the church of Ss Peter and Paul's in New Brighton was closed by the Diocese of Shrewsbury in 2008 because it was deemed too large and expensive for its congregation. However, its side chapel was recently reopened to the public after a local campaign.
Now the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a group which has experience of reopening churches, has expressed an interest in the site. Based near Florence, Italy, the order boasts approximately 70 priests and mainly concentrates on missionary work by running parishes and schools in 12 different countries.
Priests from the institute conduct Mass in Latin in a liturgy known as the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite. This form of the Mass is already celebrated by a visiting priest from the order on a weekly basis at Sacred Heart Church in Moreton, Wirral.
Talks are due to take place between the Bishop of Shrewsbury, Rt. Rev. Mark Davies and the leaders of the order to consider provision of Mass in English. The bishop welcomed the interest of the institute in establishing a new foundation in the diocese and working for the restoration of the Church of Ss. Peter and Paul. Monsignor Gilles Wach, a French founder of the Institute, is to visit the diocese for talks with the bishop after Easter. This would be the first Catholic church in the UK to be run by the institute.
Canon William Hudson, a spokesman for the institute, said that a number of issues such as finances need to be addressed, adding "I am confident that with the guidance of the bishop, a solution can be found to the benefit of the Catholic community at large." Significant repairs are needed in the nave of the church.
Consecrated in 1935, SS Peter and Paul is known as the Dome of Home because it is one of the first things seafarers see when they sail back to Liverpool. It stands above the Bay of Liverpool on a sandstone outcrop and can be viewed from as far away as Llandudno in North Wales.
The Institute operates 13 parishes in the US. One of its most prominent projects is the restoration of the church formerly known as St. Clare’s in Chicago IL and now known as Christ the King. Significant renovation and repairs remain to be done at the historic church that was done in an Italianate neo-classical style. The Institute intends that its provincial headquarters in Chicago should serve to restore Catholic traditions in music and the plastic arts. The institute also has parishes in California, Kansas, Missouri, and New Jersey. In the Republic of Ireland, the Institute runs a parish in Limerick.