Bracknell campaign against Catholic church closure

St Margaret Clitherow Catholic church, Bracknell
Image caption St Margaret Clitherow Church in Bracknell opened in 1972

Catholics in a Berkshire town have launched a campaign against the closure of their church.

Parishioners want to save St Margaret Clitherow in Bracknell, which has been off-limits for the past year due to copper thefts from its roof.

The Catholic Diocese of Portsmouth that runs the church is now closing it for good, citing expensive repair costs.

Campaigners said the lay community was not given the opportunity to try to raise the funds.

They added that the church's parishioners have been attending nearby St Joseph's Church with the expectation that St Margaret Clitherow would reopen.

The Diocese of Portsmouth representative Monsignor John Nelson said the repair costs to St Margaret Clitherow would be up to £200,000, which formed "a significant factor" in the decision to close the church.

Monsignor John Nelson said: "When the roof was damaged, the knock-on effect of that has been that water has penetrated and other damage has been done.

"On top of that there is also asbestos in the church."

He added: "The attraction to thieves has largely been the copper roof, so you would also be looking at a new roof."

Parishioner Kate Pitt has set up a Facebook group to campaign against the closure.

"We want the chance to raise that money and approach benefactors," she said.

"We just can't understand why we're not given the option just to try. The diocese has made this decision without consulting us."

Monsignor John said that he had received 12 emails, "a very small amount", since reading out a statement on the closure in Bracknell last month.

He added that a "reduced number of priests" in the diocese was another key factor in the decision.

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