By Associated Press - Tuesday, July 10, 2018

VATICAN CITY (AP) - The Vatican is drafting guidelines to help Catholic dioceses find appropriate ways to decommission unneeded churches so they don’t end up as discos, gymnasiums or gelato shops.

The Vatican’s culture ministry is teaming up with Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and the Italian bishops’ conference to host an international conference in November on managing the sale of churches and handling of their assets. The conference is entitled: “Doesn’t God Dwell Here Anymore?”

Culture Minister Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi told reporters on Tuesday that many dioceses in Europe, North America and Australia have more churches than they need or can maintain, thanks to an increasingly secularized society, fewer church-going Catholics and financial constraints.

The Vatican wants to ensure the buildings maintain some of the spiritual, cultural and social value they had as churches.

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