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In America, where everything is portable, why not move historic churches from the old ethnic neighborhood out to the suburbs where there is a growing population?Unless it is a small wooden chapel, this is a serious undertaking and is much more difficult than it sounds.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 if the people can come up with a financial plan to maintain the church?Some churches, though seldom used, can become satellites of nearby parishes.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.They can be opened for as little or as much as they are able.

They are responsible for the property, maintaining the building, and finding clergy to celebrate the sacraments.They are a significant part of our cities’ history and beacons of faith to modern society.If that cannot be done, why not follow the example of medieval Rome, where the populace fled and many of the churches were unused for long periods of time?At the minimum, these churches could be open for special occasions: baptisms, weddings, funerals, and important feast days.In Europe, religious confraternities and guilds own oratories and are responsible for their maintenance and sacred use.The cost to move it will likely be greater, and the benefits to the environment may not be better than designing a new church from scratch.