The Archdiocese of Philadelphia does not want its churches designated as historical landmarks. This is a very interesting story at the intersection of public history/preservation and religion.
Learn more at the Philadelphia Inquirer:
The first time Celeste Morello succeeded in getting a Roman Catholic church mural listed on the city’s historic register, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement applauding the news.
Emboldened, Morello filed another nomination in December to protect a group of important paintings in the Cathedral Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.
But this time, her efforts did not go over so well.
On Jan. 7, the archdiocese responded by sending a stern letter to all parish priests warning them not to cooperate with preservationists, and to report any attempts by “independent parties” to landmark church property.
The directive, signed by Monsignor Daniel J. Kutys, a top diocesan administrator, goes on to assert that the city’s historic preservation law is an infringement on religious freedom, as well as a financial burden, and vows “to challenge the current attempts to have various church properties designated as ‘historic.’ ” The letter puts the word historic in quotation marks each time it is used.
The directive has angered and alarmed Philadelphia’s preservation community at a moment when the city’s surplus religious buildings are becoming increasingly vulnerable to sale and demolition.
“It’s very unfortunate” to see the archdiocese take this stand, said Patrick Grossi, the advocacy director for the Preservation Alliance for Greater Philadelphia. The letter makes it seem that “these designations are done over the wishes of the parishioners, when in fact the parishioners are usually in favor of them.”
Read the rest here.