Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has called on key aldermen to stop a rezoning vote that would likely save St. Adalbert’s church.  We seek to rectify her unwarranted attempt to circumvent the wishes of the people to preserve this sacred part of our heritage and culture.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries when immigrants with strong Catholic faith were arriving in America from Eastern Europe, building churches was arguably the very highest of their priorities.  Deep traditional faith was the foundation of their culture and their devotion to Christ and the sacraments produced many of the most beautiful and architecturally extraordinary churches in the Western Hemisphere.  Among them is St. Adalbert’s, the historic mother church of Chicago Polish Catholics.  Designed by Henry Schlacks, the best of the best among Chicago church architects, it was modeled after the Basilica of Saint Paul Outside the Walls in Rome.  This masterpiece houses the only full size replica of Michelangelo’s famous Pietà sculpture, which depicts the body of Christ held in the arms of his mother after the crucifixion.

Sadly, despite serious and sustained resistance from parishioners and the wider Catholic and architectural preservationist communities, Cardinal Cupich and the Archdiocese of Chicago closed St. Adalbert’s in 2019.  Since then, groups of Polish and Hispanic Catholics have been praying the Rosary multiple times every week, year-round, outside St. Adalbert’s and at Cardinal Cupich’s Holy Name Cathedral, asking God for the reopening of their beloved church.  They’ve been working tirelessly for this goal, most recently struggling to prevent its sale for a profane and sacrilegious purpose.

To prevent the exploitation and possible destruction of this treasure of our heritage and community, the Chicago City Council’s zoning committee voted to downzone the property with an open space designation.  If achieved, this will prevent commercial use and open the door to landmarking, various types of restoration and preservation funding and viable and self-sustaining scenarios for acquisition by a religious order.  It is our hope and expectation that this will enable St. Adalbert’s to once again be used as a place of worship, as a shrine, monastery or church, re-evangelizing the neighborhood and fulfilling the sacred purpose for which it was so nobly crafted.

When it appeared that the zoning measure could pass in the City Council, Lori Lightfoot called on key aldermen to defer the vote.  Since then, a deal to misuse the church property commercially has progressed quite far along the path toward closure.

The mayor’s interference violates our religious rights under the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.  We’re therefore taking legal action to address this in federal court at a cost of $15,000 plus a few additional expenses.  With considerable hardship, a small group of dedicated Catholics has already covered $9,500 in costs, but we need an additional $5,500 to bring the case to fruition.

Can you stand with us in our efforts to overcome this politically driven injustice and save St. Adalbert’s?

Pax Christi