Published: 14:49, 14 January 2020
Catholics are being called upon to attend a meeting on the future of a church tonight (Thursday).
The Archdiocese of Southwark is considering selling St Thomas More Church in West Malling, along with the land around it, as it faces a bill of more than £1million to repair a separate building.
Instead it's decided to sell the building, along with the church and a pre school, moving parishioners elsewhere.
The Archbishop of Southwark, John Wilson, did not respond to the petition in a statement published today.
Instead he said: “Since my letter of December 20 to the Catholic community of the parish of St Thomas More, West Malling, there has been contact from a number of individuals and media outlets, together with an online petition.
"The Letter never proposed the closure of the parish, but the relocation of liturgical, spiritual and pastoral provision for the Catholic community of around 250 people who attend Mass each weekend across three Sunday Masses.
"This has been prompted by the urgent need to address the problems of the site as a whole on which, alongside other buildings, the presbytery and church are located.
"I am sorry for any upset caused by this letter. It was issued following a series of meetings, over a number of months, between Diocesan Officers, the Parish Priest, Fr Peter Soper, and representatives of the Parish Finance Committee. The proposal it contained was endorsed fully by all involved.
"The Letter was requested, and acknowledged gratefully, so that its content could be shared with the parish community. In the course of this there seems, sadly, to have been a breakdown in communication.
"In order to move forward in a constructive manner, Fr Peter has proposed an open parish meeting, from which written suggestions about how to resolve the challenges faced will be collated.
"These will then inform our ongoing future collaboration towards a sustainable solution in the service of the church’s mission. I would like to ask all parishioners to please do all they can to support this process positively as we seek to work together."
The meeting on the church's future will take place on Thursday at St Thomas More Church. It starts at 7.30pm.
More by this authorLuke May