The Catholic community in Utrecht is facing the closure of its most important church, the St Catherine cathedral, the Volkskrant reports.
The upkeep of the cathedral, which dates from 1560, is becoming too great a financial burden and the church may be sold off for the symbolic amount of €1 to the Catharijneconvent museum, parishioners have been told.
Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk said the closure is not down to ‘you or me’ but to the decline in churchgoers, which means they do not contribute financially. Of the 200 churches in the diocese of Utrecht, only some 20 will remain in a couple of decades, the archbishop said last year.
The St Catherine cathedral has been the seat of the Roman Catholic diocese of Utrecht since 1853.
The Netherlands has some 3.5 million Catholics but the number of churchgoers is declining by around 6% a year. Only 158,000 Catholics said they went to church in 2017.
The decision to sell off the cathedral, which will have to be approved by the Vatican because it is not an ordinary parish church, has spurred Catholics in Utrecht to mount a petition. They feel €1 is too little and fear the cathedral may be given an inappropriate function, the Volkskrant said.
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