Catholic protesters have finally admitted defeat in a two-year battle to be re-admitted to their beloved church.
The former parishioners of St Ignatius Church in Preston have “reluctantly” called a halt to their campaign to overturn a lock-out by the Bishop of Lancaster.
The group, said to number more than 100, even wrote to the Pope in a bid to force a diocesan rethink. But after the city’s Indian (Syro Malabar) Catholics took over the 180-year-old building – and recently made it their first cathedral in the UK – the locals say they now accept they have lost their fight to have English services reinstated.
“It’s terribly sad because throughout the past two years we have been holding out hope that the diocese would relent,” said Moira Cardwell, one of the campaign leaders.
“But now the church has been transferred exclusively to the Indian community and made a cathedral, we’re forced to admit we’ve lost. Reluctantly there isn’t anything else we can do. Our campaign is over.”
St Ignatius opened in 1836 and is a Grade II* Listed building, meaning it is viewed as a “particularly important building of more than special interest.”
The diocese shut it in late 2014 citing falling attendances and a shortage of priests in Preston. It was later handed over to the Syro Malabar community who will soon have a new bishop based there.
“We’ve tried everything we can to get back in, we even wrote to His Holiness the Pope,” said Mrs Cardwell. “It’s wonderful that St Ig’s is now open again and a cathedral. But that doesn’t include us.
“We had a great congregation there. It was a real family, as a church should be. Now we all feel like there is a void in our lives. It’s very sad.”