Small dioceses are also suffering from this crisis, and they are trying to be good stewards of their finances. Because they are holy places, dedicated to God and His saints, set apart for worship and the reception of the sacraments, paid for by the faithful, and honored as repositories of sacred and devotional art.
What the Modernists said about the ethnic churches in many of our cities and towns is often true: they were often not well built and not that beautiful.
The building should be offered up to God, not unlike an Old Testament sacrifice.
In working-class neighborhoods some see it as a concern, but they are a minority. In dioceses across the country, including Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and New York, we have faced a historic number of church closings.The reasons are due to a lack: of funds, of parishioners, or of priests.An added benefit is that the property can go back on the tax rolls and help the city.If the building is pleasant this may be seen as a loss, but if it is ugly or built since the 1960s this solution will sadden few people.If the building is no longer slated for sacred purposes then it is better that it no longer exist.
In many upper-income neighborhoods the church building itself is worthless and the property is more beneficial being “converted” to high-end condominiums.Well-known examples of this are the renovations of the former Los Angeles cathedral, Saint Vibiana, into a wedding and corporate event center, and of Saint John the Baptist Church in Pittsburgh into a brew pub.Often when a sale is proposed, the overly pious are assured that all of the major artistic pieces will be removed, meaning altars, stained glass, and statuary.But what if the building is still beloved by people in the neighborhood, especially the faithful?What are some creative ways to assist them to have a house of prayer that is a light to the city and a locus for the sacraments?At the minimum, these churches could be open for special occasions: baptisms, weddings, funerals, and important feast days.