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.
Does anyone know how extensive this “significant structural damage” is? Could it be that demolition is unavoidable for safety’s sake? Does the archdiocese have any intentions on rebuilding after demolition?
So many questions……no answers. Keep in mind that Cupich is the Bishop that locked traditionalists out of their parish (literally locked them out) because they wanted to celebrate a TLM on Holy Thursday in his old Diocese. They ended up having Mass outside. With him at the helm in Chicago, the situation is not hopeful. He is a true blue Francis Bishop that has not ‘mellowed’ but only gotten worse as of late. Unfortunately, I don’t have much hope with this situation, I think he will do anything he can to put the kibosh on tradition.
That’s what’s so disturbing about this story– that the Archdiocese has
been so opaque about what it has in mind for the parish. Surely any
bishop who respected his flock would be forthcoming with whatever
decisions needed to be made. Perhaps the demolition permit is needed
to remove the burnt out roof of the church prior to restoration, or perhaps
its part of a plan to flatten the church and sell the land– either way, it’s
outrageous that after six months, the Archdiocese will not condescend to
tell the parishioners what’s going on. It makes the chancery look like
it just doesn’t care what the pew meat thinks as long as they pay,
pray and obey.
This may be a dumb question but…Why wasn’t this historic Church insured? Are any of our Catholic Churches insured?
Only those which exhibit felt gay banners are insured, by order of satan through his Modernist minions.
The Archdiocese of Chicago chose some time ago to self-insure its properties.
Yes, what these dioceses do is ‘self insure’, whereby they take exorbitant ‘insurance premiums’ from the parishes and only the Good Lord knows where the money goes. Happened in my old parish. Some years the ‘premiums’ were more than quadruple the cost of normally insuring a church. Premiums would also change drastically from year to year. The rot is deep. But we already knew that.
Not dumb at all, JAS. The lack of insurance for a construction site is mind-numbing.
This will probably sound incredibly bitter & cynical, but here goes: The archdiocese has a demolition permit in hand. The Archdiocese will accept all the $$ raised, under the guise of something noncommittal, like a “we’ll see what we can do to help” comment. Then, once the check has cleared, $$ been earmarked & reallocated to help ‘the poor’, the demolition crews will be called in for an overnight or holiday weekend job. It will be an empty lot within a few hours.
Do you really think Cupich is going to go out of his way to save a traditional landmark? Really? When he could cash in for his own projects? Not a chance. Even if the $$ isn’t an issue at all, there isn’t a desire to save anything related to tradition at the highest levels, either liturgical tradition or architectural/historical tradition. It will be taken down, regardless of whether it’s salvageable, safe, or not. Look at it another way: would Francis save it? When there’s ‘the poor’ to support? Probably not. There’s your answer.
Sorry folks-these are hard days to be Catholic, and even harder to be traditionalist. But look on the bright side-it will get worse sooner than later. So someday these will be the ‘good old days’. Sigh.
Our generation may not live to see the temporal restoration of Jesus Christ’s Catholic Church, but we can build it up. As St. Pio liked to say, “Pray, hope, and don’t worry!” I humbly recommend throwing in a good measure of sacrifices and alms-giving.
Well now that Arch. Cupich is in charge of the Archdiocese there, I don’t see much hope in this once beautiful church being restored. However, if we all pray and support with our donations, miracles can happen!!
I sadly agree. I’ll bet if a mosque or protestant church caught fire, he’d gladly chip in a couple million. He was probably smiling on the inside when this happened. One less traditional church/group to worry about. 🙁
Keep praying! May the Divine Infant King show us His glorious plan soon.
Steve, thank you very much for this write up.
Please clarify for us these points.
A) How much money has been raised: The more than $500,000 figure seems to include the Coalition’s $450,000. Am I correct to say this?
B) Is this half-million figure collected funds or pledges?
C) What if any portion of the Coalition funds are conditional?