Demolition of St. James Church Begins

St. James Catholic Church has stood for 133 years

Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013  |  Updated 6:47 PM CDT
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Parishioners Protest Planned Demolition of Church

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Parishioners Protest Planned Demolition of Church

Unnamed benefactor has offered $5M to Chicago Archdiocese in quest to save south side parish. Sharon Wright reports.
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Crews on Wednesday began tearing down a Catholic church which has stood for more than a century on Chicago's south side.

St. James Catholic Church, which has stood on the 2900 block of South Wabash Avenue for 133 years, was in bad need of millions of dollars worth of repairs. The Chicago Archdiocese maintained those repairs are cost prohibitive.

Despite months of prayers and petitions, Cardinal Francis George said in a letter that "the canonical requirements have been met" to begin tearing down the structure, which has a storied history among the city's Irish and African American communities.

A new, smaller church is planned for a nearby location.

"Everything about this makes absolutely no sense, and it's really outside the limits of comprehension unless there's some sort of deal going on here," said Ward Miller with the group Preservation Chicago. "And if there's some sort of deal, shame on them."

Parishioners and activists protested and even appealed to the Vatican to no avail.

The archdiocese declined to comment on Wednesday's demolition work.

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