Cash blow for Leeds landmark church

Cash-strapped Leeds Parish Church cannot solve its financial problems through a new 'cathedral status'.

That is the decision of a commission set up by the Church of England to examine England's 44 diocese boundaries. It has concluded Leeds Parish Church, also known as St Peter's Church at Leeds, should not become a

cathedral.

As reported by the Yorkshire Evening Post, in October the Rev Canon Tony Bundock, the Rector of Leeds, said he hoped commissioners would look favourably on their bid for cathedral status.

Such a move would have entitled the church to claim additional cash from the Church of England, for example paying the wages of staff.

However, the commission set up to look into the idea has instead recommended the Diocese of Ripon and Leeds be combined with two others: Wakefield and Bradford, to form a super-diocese, whose capital would be in Wakefield.

However, any decision on the status of Leeds Parish Church is not likely to be taken until 2013 - in the meantime, the report's authors will await feedback on the proposals.

The Bishop of Ripon and Leeds, the Rt Rev John Packer, said: "It is important to stress that these proposals will not affect in any way the church's commitment to a Christian presence and pastoral care in every

parish of West and North Yorkshire.

"There may be aspects of the report where we would want to offer other solutions but this period of consultation means that we can discuss all the suggestions before any proposals are firmed up next summer."

Under the recommendations, a new de-centralised diocese would be led by a diocesan bishop based in Wakefield and would be divided into five episcopal areas - Bradford, Huddersfield, Leeds, Ripon and Wakefield - each with its own 'area' bishop and 'area council'.

The report also recommends the new diocese would retain all three existing cathedrals, with Wakefield Cathedral being the principal cathedral and the diocesan office located in Leeds.

The Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Bishop's Council will be meeting in mid-January to consider any initial diocesan response and the Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod will debate the Report in early March.

Interested parties, those who gave evidence and others who wish to do so have until Monday May 9, 2011.

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