By SAM RAPPAPORT
The Archdiocese of Chicago has secured a demolition permit for the structurally damaged Shrine of Christ the King Church, 6401 S. Woodlawn Ave., according to a spokeswoman for the Catholic authority.
The development raises questions about the Archdiocese’s plans surrounding the fire-devastated building.
Demolition appeared avoidable when, at a Feb. 8 press conference, The Coalition to Save The Shrine, a body of parishioners and Woodlawn community members pushing for the preservation of the landmark church, announced that $450,000 in pledges had been raised specifically for the building’s stabilization.
The Archdiocese declined to comment beyond acknowledging the obtainment of the demolition permit.
Gabriel Piemonte, an active member of The Coalition to Save The Shrine and past editor of the Hyde Park Herald, expressed concern but remained hopeful.
“We can’t be 100 percent sure what this means but it’s definitely worrisome,” Piemonte said. “It adds a level of anxiety, but doesn’t change much.”
Ward Miller, executive director of Preservation Chicago, an organization that has rallied for the conservation of the historic Woodlawn church, showed disappointment with the Archdiocese’s decision to acquire the permit.
“Perhaps they are just following up with it as an option,” Miller said. “I hope it indicated that they are just following through with a process they started with the city, but that there is still an open dialogue.”
Canon Matthew Talarico of Shrine of Christ the King said that despite the Archdiocese’s recent action, conversations with the institution have been positive. Talarico confirmed that he will meet with the Archdiocese next week.
“It’s hard to say but it looks like we will have an outcome sooner rather than later,” Talarico said.