What to Know
- Deep financial debts are forcing three Catholic churches in Philadelphia to close.
- Holy Trinity Church, Our Lady of Ransom Church and Saint Rose of Lima Church are all closing their doors as worship sites.
- Two of the churches have not held services in years.
Three Catholic churches in Philadelphia are closing due to deep financial issues.
Holy Trinity Church in South Philadelphia, Our Lady of Ransom Church in Northeast Philadelphia and Saint Rose of Lima Church in West Philadelphia will all close their doors as worship sites, Archdiocese of Philadelphia spokesman Kenneth Gavin said in a press release.
The requests to shutter the churches all came from the pastors of their respective parishes, as well as their parish pastoral and financial councils, Gavin said. Archbishop Charles Chaput approved the move.
Holy Trinity Church has not held Mass since 2017, when parishioners asked that services not be held there due to the deteriorating flooring, Gavin said. The cost to replace the floor is about $53,000 while the church also needs a new roof and HVAC system, which could cost between $500,000 and $800,000, he added.
Built in 1784 by German-speaking Catholics, the church was the third Catholic church erected in Philadelphia, Gavin said. As such, "Its exterior is historically designated and cannot be altered without the approval of the historical commission of the City of Philadelphia," he added.
Meanwhile, the cost to maintain Our Lady of Ransom Church in the 2017-2018 fiscal year was about $36,000, an added burden for its parish - Resurrection of Our Lord - which today is nearly $86,000 in debt, Gavin said. Similar to its South Philadelphia counterpart, Our Lady of Ransom Church has only held one service - a funeral - since 2017.
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Gavin said parishioners from Our Lady of Ransom can attend Resurrection of Our Lord Church, which is less than a mile away.
Financial constraints also contributed to the decision to close Saint Rose of Lima. Attempts to repair the building would place an "undue financial burden" on Saint Barbara Parish, which is more than $98,000 in debt, Gavin said.
Additionally, the church is no longer used by the parish and "it is believed that the space would be better utilized for the instruction of students attending the Independence Mission School occupying the rest of the building," Gavin said.
Chaput's decision to approve the closures means the churches can now be used for "profane but not sordid" purposes, Gavin added. Each church's parish will now decide what to do with the buildings.
Sister Dale McDonald of the National Catholic Education Association, told NBC10 earlier this year that several churches and catholic schools were demolished after paying monetary settlements to victims of child sex abuse by priests.
"The indirect consequence of the payouts is that the dioceses have less money available for schools or support of the school itself," McDonald said.
In November, Archbishop Chaput announced a reparations fund for those sexually assaulted by Catholic clergy in Philadelphia.