The people in charge of giving grants to churches to preserve and repair buildings do not grasp the purpose of a Catholic church, according to the bishop in charge of worship and liturgy.

Archbishop George Stack, chairman of the patrimony committee of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, criticised the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) during a speech on Saturday.

Giving the St Bede annual liturgy lecture at Ealing Abbey, the Archbishop of Cardiff said that the HLF, which has benefited many churches in recent years, had now changed its policy on places of worship and had no idea of what a sacred space was.

“The ‘Grants for Places of Worship’ … is being swept up into the amenities grants,” said Archbishop Stack. “Churches are to be regarded in the same way as museums and railways and to be measured in terms of their ‘community use’.

“The nature of sacred space has a meaning all of its own which cannot be quantified or measured in terms of ‘visitor numbers’ or ‘community impact’.”

The HLF, created in 1994 to distribute lottery money, announced in April that it was scrapping its £25 million Grants for Places of Worship fund next year.

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