Chicago Archdiocese Wants Latin Mass Church Demolished

by Rodney Pelletier  •  •  January 6, 2016   

Archdiocese says restoration of historic Shrine of Christ the King is "cost prohibitive"

You are not signed in as a Premium user; we rely on Premium users to support our news reporting. Sign in or Sign up today!

CHICAGO ( - The Archdiocese of Chicago is requesting a historic church damaged by fire last year be demolished instead of repaired.


18th-century wood statue of Infant Jesus saved from fire

The Shrine of Christ the King in Woodlawn is the provincial headquarters of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, a Society of Apostolic Life under direct supervision of the Vatican. The group promotes the Traditional liturgy, and brought the Traditional Latin Mass to the area after the archdiocese granted them permission to use the church.

It was in the midst of the church restoration last October when a bucket of rags used to refinish the floor spontaneously combusted early in the morning. The multi-alarm fire severely burned the roof and its supports, almost completely destroying them.

The 18th-century Spanish wood statue of the Infant Jesus that stands as the centerpiece above the High Altar and is iconic of the Shrine's mission was left amost entirely unharmed.

The archdiocese self-insured the building, bearing the financial responsibility for the loss instead of an outside insurance company paying for it. Many of the archdiocese's buildings are insured that way in order to cut costs.

In a January 4 statement on its website, the Institute reported:

Based on extensive engineering and other evaluations the Archdiocese has concluded that the church building has significant structural issues and to restore the building to its state before the fire and to bring it up to current City of Chicago building code standards is cost prohibitive. ... [T]he Archdiocese is moving without delay to demolish the remnants of the structure.

The archdiocese is offering the Institute the option to propose a plan for rebuilding the church on the present property or to get another building in South Chicago. Institute members are considering the first option.

Before the fire, the Institute started a GoFundMe campaign to raise $500,000 to restore the building. It had been severely damaged by a fire in 1976 and was almost demolished then, but the Institute was given the use of the church in 2005, and they had been slowly restoring it up to last October's fire. The current campaign, however, has raised only a fraction of the amount requested.

Free clip from CHURCH MILITANT premium

Not a subscriber? Start your subscription.

On Thursday, representatives of the archdiocese of Chicago, the owners of the church and property, the Institute and church members will meet with the Chicago Landmark Commission to discuss the demolition.

A group of lay people who started the web page Save the Shrine is implying that members of the Institute are not free to contradict the archdiocese on this matter, claiming "the folks at the Institute are in the very awkward position of being told by the Archdiocese that their home is not worth saving. They are very likely unable to speak out against this decision, but we are not."

They are encouraging people to attend Thursday's meeting at 12:45 p.m. at City Hall and oppose the demolition.

The Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest exclusively uses the Missal of 1962 for their Masses, upholding many of the traditions the Church has fostered over the centuries.

Watch this episode of "The Vortex," where Michael Voris talks about the war against tradition and the entrenched spirit of Protestantism within the Catholic Church today:


Have a news tip? Submit news to our tip line.

We rely on you to support our news reporting. Please donate today.
By commenting on you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our comment posting guidelines