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Worth more than money: Vatican blocks 'deconsecration' of historic Catholic church

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
2/21/2014 (3 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Vatican court sides with parishioners to save St. Ann's church in Buffalo, NY.

A priceless parish church in Buffalo, New York has been spared the wrecking ball, for now, thanks to the advocacy of its parishioners. St. Ann's parish in Buffalo, NY, was slated for "deconsecration" after the diocese concluded it could not finance the repair of the church and consolidated its parish communities.

St. Ann's is an architectural and cultural gem of faith. It is worth more than just money.

St. Ann's is an architectural and cultural gem of faith. It is worth more than just money.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
2/21/2014 (3 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: St. Ann's, church, Buffalo, New York, Vatican, decree, court, deconsencration, diocese


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - It required help from the Vatican, but St. Ann's church in Buffalo, NY, has been spared the wrecking ball, at least for now. The beautiful church was built in 1886 and is considered a priceless treasure of architecture and faith. Unfortunately, in a world of limited resources there really is no such thing as priceless, from an accounting perspective.

Facing a potential bill exceeding $12 million for repair and renovation of the structure, the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo made the difficult decision to deconsecrate the church and put the building on the market. A buyer would have the option of converting the structure to secular use or to demolish it altogether.

St. Ann, pray for us!

Concerned parishioners appealed to the Vatican, suing the diocese in a Vatican court to stop the proposed liquidation of St. Ann's. Thankfully and prayerfully, they won.

A decree was issued by the Vatican that forbids the use of the structure for anything other than religious purposes. It also forbids conversion of the church by developers. Therefore, St. Ann's will have to remain a church, as intended.

Still, the diocese has pledged that it will appeal the decision to the Apostolic Signatura, which is the Vatican equivalent of the Supreme Court.

The parish community of St. Ann's has already been folded into a neighboring parish.

The Catholic Church has enjoyed explosive growth in various parts of the world, but has suffered decline in the United States. Only recently, with the publicity and popularity of Pope Francis, have attendance numbers in some places apparently reversed a downward trend.

As a way of managing decline, some diocese have made the painful decision to shutter some locations and to sell property. Sadly, some of those churches, like St. Ann's are beautiful examples of 19th century American architecture and do not deserve to meet a wrecking-ball. Nor should they be converted to secular use, which is quintessentially profane.

A restaurant, apartments, shopping, perhaps a wrecking ball, really?!

A restaurant, apartments, shopping, perhaps a wrecking ball, really?!


Relatively speaking, modern churches tend to be cheaply built affairs, and never inspire the same kind of reverence that can be found in a an architectural gem like St. Anne's. The preservation of the church, even if it will be expensive and difficult, is worth its cost if it inspires people to come closer to God. Those who built St. Ann's were not fools. Their design choices were deliberate and based on traditional designs that have served the Catholic Church for centuries. The church is a wonderful example of architecture that points to heaven.

Those who seek to save St. Ann's aren't fools either. Some treasures are worth more than just money.

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