Pope Benedict XVI is offering a Papal Blessing with an attached Plenary Indulgence for all the faithful who attend the grand opening of the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, New Brighton, Wirral, on March 24
The Mass will mark the opening of the shrine church following the closure of the parish church in 2008 amid rising maintenance and repair costs.
The shrine church will be a special place of prayer and devotion open every day for adoration of the Most Holy Eucharist.
The church will also serve as a centre in the Diocese of Shrewsbury for the celebration of the Holy Mass and other sacraments in the Latin Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite.
The Parish of Holy Apostles and Martyrs is served from the Parish Church of English Martyrs and Father Philip Moor, the parish priest, will assist at the opening Mass.
The church (pictured) will become the first in Britain to be entrusted to the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a society of Apostolic life of Pontifical Right.
The Celebrant at the Mass, which begins at 10.30am, will be Monsignor Gilles Wach, the French founder of the Institute, and the homily will be preached by the Rt Rev. Mark Davies, the Bishop of Shrewsbury. People are expected to travel from different parts of the country and some from overseas to the church that the Bishop of Shrewsbury hopes will become a special centre of devotion for people from the immediate area and far beyond.
The Vatican, which has taken an interest in the establishment of the shrine church, issued a decree last month announcing the Papal Blessing and Plenary Indulgence to all the faithful who attend the Mass.
It reads: “The Apostolic Penitentiary, empowered by a faculty granted to it in a special way by our Holy Father Benedict XVI, by Divine Providence Pope, happily grants his Lordship the Most Reverend Mark Davies, Bishop of Shrewsbury, that, on the 24th March next, on which the pastoral care of the Church of Saints Peter and Paul and St Philomena is solemnly entrusted to the members of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, after the offering of the Divine Sacrifice, he may impart to all the faithful present, who, their souls entirely separated from attachment to sin, take part in the sacred mysteries, a Papal Blessing with an attached Plenary Indulgence, which may be gained under the usual conditions (sacramental Confession, Eucharistic Communion and Prayer for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff).
“Those faithful unable for a reasonable cause to be present at the sacred rites may devoutly receive this Papal Blessing and the Plenary Indulgence, according to the norms, if they follow the rites with a pious intention of mind by means of radio or television broadcast. Nothing to the contrary withstanding.”
The foundation of the shrine church will ensure that the patrimony of the church building so dear to Catholics and other members of the local community is secured and continues to bear witness to the faith and mission of the Church in the Wirral and beyond.
Bishop Davies said: “It is a source of great joy that we have received the blessing of the Holy Father and a Plenary Indulgence to mark the new mission of this historic church of the Shrewsbury Diocese.”
A plenary indulgence is the remission of the whole of the punishment due for forgiven sins.
On this occasion it applies to Catholics who are free from mortal sin and who perform the good work of attending the opening of the Shrine Church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, receive Holy Communion and go to Confession within seven days and who pray for the intentions of the Holy Father.
The doctrine and practice of indulgences, the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, are “closely linked to the Sacrament of Penance”.
Catholic doctrine holds that when a person is forgiven their sins, there still remains a “temporal punishment” or debt due to those sins.
This may be undertaken by offering up penance and the sufferings of this life; that which still remains at death will need to be completed in the state of purification (Purgatory).
The shrine church of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena is a cruciform church with a green dome, built in the Renaissance-style and opened for use in 1935.
A Grade II listed building, it towers above New Brighton and the Bay of Liverpool on a sandstone outcrop and can be viewed from as far away as Llandudno in North Wales.
(Pictures of Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, celebrating Mass in the Weekday Chapel of Ss Peter and Paul and St Philomena, New Brighton, and of the dome of the shrine church by Simon Caldwell, St Gabriel News and Media)