Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Premature Victory Declaration at St. Mary's?

Readers of Mark Shea's blog may recall the story of efforts to save St. Mary's Oratory in Rockford, Illinois. St. Mary's is home to a thriving and vibrant Latin Mass congregation. The local County had decided that the Church, which was recently and beautifully restored, (along with its school) would be a dandy place to build a new jail.

Some members of the County Board hatched their plan over Labor Day weekend, and were planning to jam their proposal throught the board's meeting that week, while the Rector of the Oratory and the Bishop of Rockford, Thomas Doran, coincidentally enough, were away. Not that those Board members were trying to do anything sneaky or underhanded. We know politicians don't act that way...

Well, apparently Mark's declaration of victory may have been premature. Nothing is ever safe when politicians get together:
[Tonight] at 5:30 P.M. at Memorial Hall in Rockford, the Public Safety Committee of the Winnebago County Board will vote on the revised resolution to expand the land acquisition area for the county jail. Despite claims by the board and the board chairman's office, this resolution DOES NOT ensure that St. Mary's Oratory will be protected. While it specifically excludes St. Mary's Oratory from the area under consideration, it goes on to allow the project manager for the jail to include any additional property that he believes is required to complete the project. The ONLY additional property in the area under consideration is St. Mary's Oratory.

Moreover, the resolution does not protect the school or the rectory. There is reason to believe that, if either of these buildings are torn down, the foundation of the church would be weakened--perhaps beyond repair. Any excavation that close to the church threatens the structure, even if the county doesn't threaten it directly.

Isn't that so like a politician: to appear to give people what they want, to make the right noises in public, while the "fine print" of their proposals gives them the wiggle room they need to go ahead and screw us anyway.

Send a message of support for St. Mary's, and maybe even a restrained denunciation of the mendacious, sneaking jacks-in-office who cooked up this scheme to: SaintMary@ChroniclesMagazine.org .