CHICAGO (SCS) — Neighbors in Pilsen are continuing their fight to keep a beloved statue in place at a closed Catholic church.
Activists have been camping at St. Adalbert’s Catholic Church for more than 40 days now to prevent the removal of the replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta statue, which the Archdiocese of Chicago is considering moving to St. Paul.
Members of the Spanish and Polish Rosary group said Chicago police visited St. Adalbert at least five times, threatening them with arrest.
Members of the group have held round-the-clock vigils to watch over the statue since September 8.
“We’re here to stay. We’re going to keep fighting. We want our church back. We want the fabric of this community to stay the way it is,” parishioner Judy Vazquez said.
The church has been closed since 2019, and the archdiocese plans to remove the La Pieta replica and move it to St. Paul’s Catholic Church, also in Pilsen.
“Work continues to move the replica of Michelangelo’s La Pieta statue from St. Adalbert’s Church, a closed building, and it will join parishioners at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, an active and vibrant church. at 2127 W. 22nd Place, in the same community of Pilsen,” the archdiocese said in a statement. “Parishioners will have access to worship before and will be able to better enjoy the sculpture in its new home. Moreover, this precious community treasure can best be safeguarded and preserved in an active parish church.
When workers began removing the statue on Tuesday, they stopped after officials from the Chicago Buildings Department realized they did not have a permit.
Aldus. Byron Sigcho-Lopez (25th) said Wednesday morning he sent a letter to the city inspector general’s office, calling for an investigation into the situation. He said neighbors will be in St. Adalbert every day, protecting the church and statue until they have an in-person meeting with the archdiocese.
In a recent statement, the Archdiocese of Chicago said the parish is working with the city to obtain all necessary permits to safely remove the statue from the building.
“For over 40 days the Archdiocese has been tasked with getting the right permits and they still haven’t. So it’s really mind boggling to me they came again today again without the proper permits to do the job they were there to do,” said Mary Lu Seidel, director of community engagement at Preservation Chicago, on Tuesday.