Shrine Church of St Ann on Bainbridge Avenue in Norwood and Church of The Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Kingsbridge across from Van Cortlandt Park were officially deconsecrated by the Archdiocese of New York paving their way for their eventual sale.
Although no deals have been announced nor are the churches up for sale, the Archdiocese of New York’s deconsecration of these houses of worship opens up for this very possibility―something which they do not hesitate in mentioning in the official decrees issued by Cardinal Timothy Michael Dolan of the New York.
Sadly, these houses of worship do not have landmark status that would protect them from being demolished like St Augustine Church in Morrisania (or at the very least make it difficult).
The Catholic Church, in an effort to make money by selling off these properties, is pretty adamant against landmark status which would make it more difficult to sell down the road.
In its decree for the deconsecration of Visitation, Cardinal Dolan writes:
“Wheras the Church is not an archaeological museum but rather the old well of the village that gives water to the generations of today as it did to those of the past (Cf. Pope Saint John XXIII, Homily during the solemn liturgy in Byzantine-Slavic rite in honor of Saint John Chrysostom, November 13, 1960: AAS 52  963)”
This line is often quoted and cited when the church moves against landmarking status of their properties as was in the case of Immaculate Conception Church in Melrose last year.
It is truly sad that the church has no regard for these places as being central to so many people beyond just their faiths and yes, they ARE archaeological museums beyond their main purpose as a house of worship.
These structures stand to the histories of the neighborhoods where they stand in; They provide a record of an evolution of a neighborhood bearing witness to the ages.
They are more than just a place where people go to worship but often a focal point for community activism.
The “infallible” church is incorrect in trying to diminish the meanings of these structures and sadly is blinded by its own greed to fill its coffers.
Rather than selling them off if they are no longer deemed worthy for worship, then why not turn them over back to the communities which they serve? Isn’t that what Jesus would have done?
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