The information provided by the media is at the service of the common good

Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2494

Press Releases

Papal blessing at New Brighton shrine church

Sunday 18th March 2012

For immediate release:

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. 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 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, has issued the following decree announcing the Papal Blessing and Plenary Indulgence (see notes below) to all the faithful who attend the Mass:

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.

Given at Rome, from the Apostolic Penitentiary, on 14th February in the year of Our Lord 2012.

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.”Notes to Editors:

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).

In his Apostolic Constitution, Indulgentiarum doctrina, Pope Paul VI explained that indulgences are offered by the Church to individual Christians “to obtain from the Father of mercies the remission of the temporal punishments due for their sins”.

The 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. 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. It is a Grade II listed building. The church was closed in August 2008 amid rising repair and maintenance costs. After consultations with local Catholics, Bishop Davies announced its partial reopening for a weekly Mass in the Weekday Chapel from 4 March 2011. Masses in a side chapel within the main church were permitted from Christmas 2011 but further works were required before the main altar of the church could be reopened for public use.

The parish that the church previously served was amalgamated with the parish of English Martyrs’, Wallasey Village, in January 2011 to form the new and flourishing parish of the Holy Apostles and Martyrs with English Martyrs serving as the parish church.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest was founded by Monsignor Wach, a Frenchman, and Father Phillipe Mora in Gabon, Africa, in 1990 and has its headquarters in Florence, Italy. The Institute places a strong emphasis on missionary work. It has about 70 priests working in 12 countries and is training about 80 more, including two English seminarians, at its seminary in Florence. In 2004 a community of sisters was founded to aid the priests in their mission. The Institute draws its spirituality from the inspiration of St Benedict, St Francis de Sales and St Thomas Aquinas and has adopted St Paul’s injunction to “live the truth in charity” as its motto. It has a track record of restoring churches, recently reopening two in the United States and one in Belgium. Priests of the Institute celebrate Mass exclusively in the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite (sometimes known as the Tridentine rite, the Traditional Latin Mass or Old Latin Mass) according to the liturgical books promulgated in 1962 by Blessed Pope John XXIII.

The Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite was first codified at the Council of Trent under Pope St Pius V in the 1560s and was last modified by Blessed Pope John XXIII in 1962. It is celebrated in Latin with the priest leading the faithful in facing east. Following the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s the new rite, or Ordinary Form, of the Mass, which is celebrated in the vernacular with the priest facing the congregation, was introduced. Then in 2007 Pope Benedict XVI released Summorum Pontificum, a document issued “on his own initiative”, permitting the Extraordinary Form wherever a “stable group” requests it.

In this Motu Proprio, the Pope said that “there is no contradiction between the two editions of the Roman Missal”. It is the intention of Bishop Davies that the erection of the shrine church will foster reconciliation at the heart of the Church.

The Diocese of Shrewsbury covers the parts of Merseyside south of the River Mersey, the southern parts of Greater Manchester, parts of Derbyshire, almost all of the county of Cheshire and all of Shropshire.

(Photo of the dome of the shrine church and of Canon Olivier Meney of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, celebrating Mass in the Weekday Chapel, by Simon Caldwell, St Gabriel News and Media)