Last October, the Shrine of Christ the King in Chicago suffered a devastating fire. This historic parish, under the care of the Institute of Christ the King, offered the Traditional Latin Mass every day. At first, it appeared that the parish — which was not insured — might be a total loss. But a fundraising campaign that raised over half a million dollars gave hope of restoration.
Until last week, when the Archdiocese of Chicago received a demolition permit for the building:
Demolition appeared avoidable when, at a Feb. 8 press conference, The Coalition to Save The Shrine, a body of parishioners and Woodlawn community members pushing for the preservation of the landmark church, announced that $450,000 in pledges had been raised specifically for the building’s stabilization.
The Archdiocese declined to comment beyond acknowledging the obtainment of the demolition permit.
Gabriel Piemonte, an active member of The Coalition to Save The Shrine and past editor of the Hyde Park Herald, expressed concern but remained hopeful.
“We can’t be 100 percent sure what this means but it’s definitely worrisome,” Piemonte said. “It adds a level of anxiety, but doesn’t change much.”
Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, an organization that has rallied for the conservation of the historic Woodlawn church, showed disappointment with the Archdiocese’s decision to acquire the permit.
“Perhaps they are just following up with it as an option,” Miller said. “I hope it indicated that they are just following through with a process they started with the city, but that there is still an open dialogue.”
It’s impossible to say for certain what the Archdiocese plans. But it’s a worrying development for advocates of shrine restoration. This 1-minute video explains briefly the stakes, and shows the former beauty of the shrine, along with the extent of the damage:
Please sign the petition asking the Archdiocese to save the shrine.
Steve Skojec is the Founding Publisher of OnePeterFive.com. He received his BA in Communications and Theology from Franciscan University of Steubenville in 2001. His commentary has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post, The Washington Times, Crisis Magazine, EWTN, Huffington Post Live, The Fox News Channel, Foreign Policy, and the BBC. Steve and his wife Jamie have eight children. You can find more of his writing at his Substack, The Skojec File.