The August 4th edition of the Catholic Standard has the center pages focusing on the latest with the John Paul II Cultural Center. The Center was opened in April 2001 and for most of this calendar year, was only opened by appointment.
As readers of this and other blogs know, the JPII Center has not attracted the numbers and events hoped for since it was established.
Now, this is not to say that the facility and the exhibits (at least when I visited them a couple of years ago) we terrible. In fact, they were very nice. However, it was not easily accessible by metro or even vehicle. I mean, I had a bit of a difficult time finding it by car and if it wasn't due to the fact that the person with me knew the area very well, I would have never found it.
As you know, in the Fall of 2010, it was reported that the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, were looking into the possibility of purchasing this property for use as a house of study. However, this did not work out.
So the question then comes up: What do we do with this? We cannot just let it sit there and rot. We have spent all of this money and countless hours.
The answer: Let's make it a Shrine and have the Knights of Columbus "foot the bill."
The Standard reported that the Knights will repay the Diocese of Detroit the money spent to establish and operate the Center. (The Diocese of Detroit has taken quite a bit of heat over the cost of this.) In addition, proceeds from the sale will also go to Catholic University of America (CUA), which has a secured interest in the property. Further, the JPII Center will will be declared as an Archiocesan Shrine.
Let's be honest about this.
One, how much pressure was put upon the Knights to fund this effort. Personally, I bet a fair amount. I don't think that they would have jumped at it on their own.
Two, do you really think that by simply declaring it a shrine, people will naturally flock to it? Nope. Oh yes, we will see an increase in attendance but because they will ensure that when Church groups come, they must include a visit to it. But will this be enough to make it viable? I doubt it.
Three, how much of this was about "saving face" and "taping into someone else's coffers." As mentioned earlier, Detroit needs the money, the center is just sitting there and is in probably need or some repairs and the Archidocese of Washington is looking bad.
I really hate to say it but this is really throwing good money down the drain.