Prelate says lottery policy doesn’t understand Catholic perspective

Cardiff’s Archbishop George Stack says  lottery grant administrators have no idea what a sacred space is and their concept of a Catholic church’s use and design are lacking.

The grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) are earmarked to preserve, repair and refurbish buildings.

Stack says where the Fund has benefited many churches in recent years, changes in its policy has seen “Grants for Places of Worship being swept up into the amenities grants.

“Churches are to be regarded in the same way as museums and railways and to be measured in terms of their ‘community use’, Stack says.

In this respect he points to the way many rural Anglican churches are now also being used as post office services and crèches to make them viable.

“They [the HLF] have an Anglican-centric view of what a church is. They don’t understand our [Catholic concept] of sacred space,” he says.

Stack’s plan for designing and reordering any church takes into account the views of Vatican II which allow “a more prayerful encounter with God and active participation in the liturgy”. It includes:

  • Creating a space for worship which expresses the deepest mysteries of faith in sign, symbol and sacrament.
  • Providing space so that liturgical artefacts and furniture can convey a message about worship.
  • Building a narthex accessed through glass doors so that people can see in from the street.
  • Having a special baptismal area. Symbols such as the words of the Asperges around the font should convey the baptismal message of death and new life.
  • Use floor designs to create a path towards the ambo.
  • Create an altar which conveys the message of Christ’s living sacrifice.
  • The presidential chair should be made in the same materials as the altar and ambo to be a reminder that the priest is “in persona Christi”.

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