5/06/2007

Flipping (off) Jesus...

It was bound to happen. On the City's East side, a landscape that increasingly resembles Rome after the fall, where the Huns and Vandals pillaged, raped and sacked the City - it's happening here in Buffalo. This is a first!
Less than a month ago Re/Deal Partners LLC (aka Scott Weinstein and David Serotta) took possesion of St. Matthew's. Scott and David were the successful bidders at the City's tax forclosure sale last October. The property is located at 1066 East Ferry.

I've written about St. Matthew's here - St. Matthew's, (lack of) Passion? Selling Jesus...Disfiguration - Part IIDisfiguration?

This is a first. The City, with no fanfare - and below the radar of two of the East side's most vigilant housing activists - sells a Church for $3500 to an entity that is now - less than 30 days after receiving the deed to the property, Scott and David are selling St. Matthew's on Ebay. Call it deaccession, call it cultural rape and pillage. This is wrong. Really wrong...

When the assets are located at the Albright-Knox, everyone gets involved. When the assets are located on the abandoned and vacant steppes of the City's East side, NO one cares.

St. Matthew's downward spiral was hastened on April 6, 1998 when the Diocese of Buffalo sold the church to a poorly capitalized congregation. Its fate sealed by an over zealous City Hall willing to sell a signifacant portion of Buffalo's cultural and religious heritage for the price of a used Toyota. St. Matthew's should have been moth-balled.

Yesterday - back in the 90's, Transfiguration and St. Matthew's, were lost. Tomorrow - well, Bishop Kmiec is just getting ready to make the announcement about the latest church closings. Meanwhile he still lives at 79 Oakland Place, the Diocese still owns a vibrant - lovely terra cotta building at 785 Main Street and manages the mostly vacant - and desired devlopment spot just outside of East Aurora - here, Christ The King Seminary.

Seems to me that if the Bishop desired to return to the City and model the behavior necessary to turn the tide and fill the pews once again, he could. With three of the most desirable properties under his thumb (79 Oakland is one of the most expensive residences in the City, Main Street could fill a shortage of downtown class A office space and the seminary, well...) there are plenty of resources to shore up - and moth-ball - some of the most vibrant pieces of our cultural heritage here in the City.

Then again, what do I know? Flipping (off) Jesus is the latest chapter in Diocesan Deaccession. It's what happens on the urban prairie, the abandoned, forgotten and vacant steppes of Buffalo.

So it goes...
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11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Is there anything illegal about this ebay sale?

Anonymous said...

David,

You are absolutely properly justified in your anger. Report of this makes my blood boil, also. The contemporary Roman Catholic Church (what's evolved in the USA post-Vatican II, which was a much more devastating political movement than most of us were aware of) does NOT like or care about traditional Catholic architecture or artifacts -- in fact, it is contemptuous of them.

I learned why/how this all happened when, as my mother was declining and dying, I returned to church but loathed the "guitar masses" and "polka masses" and crappy "pop" culture these days dominating most parish "Catholic" churches. So I found a "Latin Mass only" church and started attending it. It was run by an order known as the Society of St. Pius X. This is one of several orders of priests, brothers, and nuns who oppose what has come of the Vatican II "reforms" and are attempting to save the beautiful liturgy, the rituals, the ceremonies, and church buildings, and the Latin Mass -- i.e "the Magisterium" that is over 2000 years old now.

Some of these "Traditionalist" orders have broken with Rome entirely, some have precarious relations or partial relations with Rome.

What amazed me, though, is that the contemporary U.S. post-Vatican II "Church" REFUSES to sell the vacant churches, etc., to the "renegades" and does everything conceivable to subvert them!!!!! It prefers to see stories exactly as you have alerted us to here.

So now not only do we have the virtually criminal "real estate investors" (what they do would, in a civil society, be outlawed as illegal) but a "rogue" contemporary pseudo-Catholic church that delights in trashing the old!!!!!

Mel Gibson attends on of these Traditionalist churches. Again, I do not necessarily agree with every point of their very conservative theology, but I found my experience with the Traditionalist church transforming -- viz. I was enthused about and inspired by going to Mass for the first time since the late 1960s. I joined the choir and learned all the Gregorian Chant and the entire traditional church-year liturgy. The ceremonies that I hadn't experienced since I was a child were so moving they sometimes evoked tears. Many who stumbled upon this church (and others like it) are brought to tears and left wondering, "My God, could what's happened really have happened to the Roman Catholic Church?" -- YES, it has.

In Cincinnati, there is a big push to restore the German American original residential area of the city, which contains many wonderful churches also, in an area known as "Over the Rhine." It, like Buffalo's East Side, had fallen into shambles and become a hopeless ghetto for African Americans during the late 50s and through the 60s. One of the biggest factions of people agreeing to move right back into the area, restore the houses and buildings, and reassert CIVILITY is the group of Traditionalist Roman Catholics.

I do not mean to introduce a theological argument here, but the politics of the matter are obvious.

There is one traditionalist church in Buffalo run by the Society of St. Pius the X in Buffalo (Our Lady of the Rosary, on McKinley Parkway). I can tell you a "secret" -- they'd LOVE to get hold of one of these churches and restore it, but they are and have to be AFRAID to talk about their interest or to assert it in public, for fear of being censored by the "Novus Ordo") ("New Order, Post Vatican II) church! In other words, people who want to preserve such places are now forced underground.

fix buffalo said...

Anon 10:13...

Yes!

fix buffalo said...

Anon 10:16...

I very much appreciate your perspective on the contemporary orientation of the Church. I would like to know if this sort of "sell-off" is happening in other areas of North America...

Again, this is the first time that a former Catholic Church has been - is being - flipped on Ebay here in Buffalo, NY...

Anonymous said...

When I purchased a property during the last In Rem auction in Oct, all purchasers had to sign a contract prohibiting resale at more than 120% of purchase price for 6 months from the time of the sale AND the time of the deed. (which supposedly was just filed).
Hence, yes, it's illegal according to the mayor's anti flipping group.
I can fax you a copy of my contract if you're interested. These jerks can still sell it 6 months from now, but at that point they may be responsible for fixing all the building violations - which is another part of the agreement...

fix buffalo said...

Anon 11:00...

please email me...will provide fax#

Anonymous said...

where can I e-mail you? I need your e-mail address...anon 11am

fix buffalo said...

davidtorke@gmail.com

The Truth Will Set You Free said...

The SSPX is not Catholic. Period. They might look like it, with all the smells and bells but they're really not. Their independence does not equal Catholic working outside the normal structures either.

OL Rosary Chapel is traditionalist, not tradition- and there's a big difference. Anonymous, don't go bashing the Church if you're upset with certain abuses and stop quoting the Lefebvrite party line- learn some basic theology, it might do you some good.

If you don't agree with every point of OL Rosary and its priests belonging to a society which was supressed, why not go to the indult Mass- Buffalo has two! And the district superior would never go for this they already considered several churches on the East Side.

But this blog isn't a place for (theological) debate. So let's hope that someone will actually buy this former church and use it for something... we don't need another Sycamore & Mills situation.

Anonymous said...

I just hope that everyone who decries the sale of this church makes it to mass each Sunday.

If not, it'd be like folks bemoaning the demise of Buffalo from a barstool in Raleigh, North Carolina.

MJ said...

Has nothing to do with religion. But people taking responsibility for their property. What does going to church on Sunday have to do with it?

Though the real shame is pry that those of the faith (which preaches service to the poor) can't find their way down here to actually worship with them as equals, give hope to the neighborhood, and preserve the churches their ancesters put their hearts and souls into.