By Lydia O’Kane
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales is to receive vital funds from the British government to help them through the coronavirus pandemic.
This financial lifeline is thanks to the British Government’s £1.57bn Culture Recovery Fund.
Around 445 organisations will share £103 million, including the Catholic Church in England.
The funding will be used to “help restart vital reconstruction work and maintenance on cherished heritage sites, keeping venues open and supporting those working in the sector.”
It was announced on Monday that the Catholic Trust for England and Wales has been granted £3million from this fund, “to distribute to Grade I and II historic Catholic churches across England.”
Much needed support
The Bishops' Conference said the funding “will provide much needed support for these important historic buildings - helping them fund essential repairs and remain open both for their regular visitors, and the wider community.”
Speaking about the grant, the Most Reverend George Stack, Chair of the Patrimony Committee of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales said:
“We’re extremely grateful to the Government’s Culture Recovery Fund for Heritage for this grant of £3million to help with the maintenance, upkeep and repair of a number of our Grade I and II listed buildings in England.”
Impact of pandemic
He went on to say that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a serious impact on the many planned projects which have been unable to proceed, and many churches have not been able to carry out “much needed repairs.”
“This grant will give encouragement and support to local congregations determined to preserve and enhance these churches which are so important a part of our national heritage,” he said.
Journalist Elena Curtis, who has just published a book entitled “50 Catholic Churches to See Before You Die,” which covers England and Wales, told Vatican Radio the funding is a huge boost at a time when so many churches are suffering.
“It’s recognition by the government that churches are really suffering very very seriously because of the pandemic. The estimates for the Catholic Church range of a loss of between half and three-quarters of their income, so it’s huge.”
The Culture Recovery Fund is designed to secure the future of Britain’s museums, galleries, theatres, independent cinemas, heritage sites and music venues with emergency grants and loans.