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Report: Historic churches sit empty in city’s heart as people worship in the suburbs

March 9, 2007

From North County Times (AP):

The faithful lowered their heads in prayer as the priest celebrated Mass. The only peculiarity about the act of worship was its setting: a garagelike space inside an apartment building, with an altar made of bamboo.

It was supposed to be temporary, but the Rev. Arnaldo D’Innocenzo’s makeshift church in this desolate, working-class community on Rome’s western outskirts has been serving local parishioners for more than 30 years.

About 12 miles east, in the historic center of Rome, tourists mill about the 400-year-old Baroque Church of St. Ignatius Loyola, admiring the trompe l’oeil frescoes on the ceiling and the relics of saints.

But regular worshippers there are few and far between.

It’s a situation that has been confounding the Diocese of Rome, the very heart of the Roman Catholic world: The magnificent churches of the city center serve more as museums than houses of prayer, while many among the burgeoning throngs of the faithful in the scrappy outskirts of town are forced to worship in garages, former grocery stores, or prefab buildings…

Full report here.

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