Our sacred places remind us not only of who we are and where we have come from, but are sources of inspiration empowering the potential of what we may become.
Our most vibrant communities have reinvented themselves around the model of the urban village with locally grown food, artistic creativity and sustainable community living. Churches are the anchors of beauty and local history from which such villages emerge. Our sacred buildings are central to community stability and sustainable development. They are architectural manifestations of beauty and hope; sanctuaries of peace in an otherwise chaotic and tumultuous world. Built by our ancestors to last forever, they are legacies of faith, imagination and sacrifice.
The picture which accompanies this petition shows the rubble of what had been St. Catherine’s Church in Cleveland, one of our holy sites desecrated not by war, not by time, but by the indifference of powerful churchmen and developers. Rising above the ruins of St. Catherine, an inscription of Love provokes and challenges our sensibilities Discovered in the demolition debris was a plaque, once a solemn tribute, now a broken remembrance of parish veterans who put their lives on the line for our nation. Who now remembers the St. Catherine’s veterans? The recent destruction of St. Catherine’s represents a heartbreaking tale of what happens when institutional leaders lose their commitment to community.
Many of our churches are priceless and rival the best that Europe has to offer. Yet they are being demolished as though they have no value. When we destroy the sacred, it is an attack on the spirit of a community, which weakens our ability to forge a bright future. This is the moment for clarity and action.
Therefore, We the Undersigned hereby declare that we unite for the purpose of protecting from destruction our sacred sites, including historically and architecturally significant churches, synagogues, mosques, shrines and temples. We actively seek the co-operation of religious, political and community leaders who share a dedication to saving sacred sites. We commit to organizing at community, city and national levels for the cause of preservation, transformation and ongoing productive use of structures which have embodied sacred traditions and holy uses.
WE ASK that religious and political leaders engage in a new process of landmarking of sacred sites to protect their interiors, exteriors and windows from deconstruction and demolition and working together to look anew at the purpose of church so that we may all experience and benefit from the divine expressed in the architecture and beauty of these places.
We ask that you open your eyes to the extraordinary beauty, craftsmanship, history and heart that are built into these sacred places. Decades and even centuries of worship and community memory are embedded within these structures.