Thursday, August 24, 2006

Judge Postpones Decision on Fate of New York's 'Famine Church'

Jubilant St. Brigid supporters celebrated State Supreme Court Justice Barbara Kapnick's decision Thursday to extend the stop work order which has prohibited the New York Roman Catholic Archdiocese from demolishing the historic Lower East Side church. The Archdiocese contends that repairs to the church, which developed a crack in one wall, would be too costly. A temporary restraining order was issued by Justice Kapnick on July 28, but not before stained glass windows were smashed by a wrecking crew.

Above: Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer addresses supporters of St. Brigid's Church and members of the media on Thursday after Justice Barbara Kapnick extended the restraining order against the Archdiocese, granting a new reprieve to the Famine-era church. Photo by Patricia Jameson-Sammartano

Thursday's decision to extend the restraining order until after Labor Day pleased the eclectic crowd, which filled the courtroom and extended into the halls of the court. It means that no action can be taken until the next hearing. The hearing took about 45 minutes.

According to Carolyn Ratcliffe, a member of the Committee to Save St. Brigid's, amended complaints will be filed by both the Committee and, likely, the Archdiocese next week. The judge's ruling is expected after Labor Day.

Edwin Torres, chair of the Committee to Save St. Brigid's, talked of using the church's large lower-level space as a community center, which was planned before the crack in the wall was discovered. In English and Spanish, he thanked the assembled parties, reminded people to call the Cardinal at (212) 371-1000 to express their dissatisfaction at the destruction of historical buildings, and ended with the cry of "Salva Santa Brigida."

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer observed, "This is not a real estate transaction; this is 150 years of history on the Lower East Side. This is a church that welcomed Irish immigrants and other immigrants; we have an obligation to do everything we can to save the church."

Patricia Jameson-Sammartano
WGT Culture Editor

1 comment:

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