Friday, March 09, 2007

It's spreading

Darn you, Peter Lee! Look what you've started!
The Archdiocese of Ottawa is considering whether to sue a group of parishioners at St. Brigid’s church to cover $50,000 in legal costs it incurred during a court battle over the church’s closing.
“Our lawyers suggested that it would be prudent to have the issue of costs reviewed,” said Gilles Ouellette, director of communications for the archdiocese, which last month received the legal go-ahead to close the 117-year-old church. “No decision has been made.”
The parishioners’ lawyer, Patrick Murray, called the archdiocese’s move a slap in the face.
“We really didn’t see this coming,” said Mr. Murray, a St, Brigid’s parishioner since childhood who worked the case without fee.
“It was a sentiment of shock and disbelief."
St. Brigid's is a super-conservative Catholic parish in an old, rundown section of centretown. The archbishop has been at war with them for ages, and finally shut down the parish, as the building is getting too old and too expensive to keep up.

There may be a lesson in all this for the Episcopalians in the Diocese of Virginia. Closing this church doesn't represent a windfall for the diocese - the building is old and fragile, but it's also designated a heritage site, so it can't be demolished. Turning it into anything else will still be expensive, as it has to be repaired and maintained, so buyers are few. The diocese is probably going to be stuck with a giant white elephant on its hands for years, and as the property deteriorates, it's either going to suck up resources for repair, or become less and less attractive to buyers.


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