BELLEVILLE — The Catholic Diocese of Belleville said Tuesday it will sell the home its bishops have lived in for 70 years and use the proceeds in the fight against abortion.
Bishop Michael McGovern made the decision to sell the residence, a 13-bedroom, 160-year-old home just outside of downtown Belleville, after a year of discussions among clergy and laity, according to a release.
But it was the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, the landmark case legalizing abortion, that pushed the diocese to devote the money to its anti-abortion pregnancy crisis centers.
“We must accompany young women who are expecting children and help them on the side of life,” a spokesman, Monsignor John Myler, told the Post-Dispatch. “With a good heart, (McGovern) said some of the proceeds of this big residence need to be directed to that.”
Illinois is at the center of the abortion rights debate in the Midwest. Many states that border it have either restricted the procedure or outlawed it altogether, as has Missouri, leaving clinics in Illinois some of the few left across a wide swath of the country.
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Clinics in the Metro East, such as Planned Parenthood in Fairview Heights, are bracing for a surge of out-of-state patients.
The diocese said the proceeds will be used to help pregnant women and also for other church outreach programs.
McGovern, who was appointed bishop in 2020, will relocate later this summer to the rectory of the Cathedral of St. Peter, located about a mile northeast on Harrison Street, and live in a suite of rooms in the residence for priests, the diocese said in a release.
“I enjoy Belleville and think it is important for the bishop of the diocese to continue living near the Cathedral,” McGovern said in a statement. “I hope to live more simply.”
Claire Leopold of Nester Realty is the listing agent for the home. It is not clear what the home’s listing price will be nor for how much the home has been appraised. Leopold did not immediately respond to a request for information.
The diocese purchased the home, built around the 1860s at 925 Centreville Avenue off South Belt West and Illinois 158, in 1948.
Before the church’s purchase, notable Belleville businessmen had owned the home, including George Baker, president of Baker Stove Works, and Edmund Heinzelmann of Heinzelmann Bros. Carriage Co.
The home was originally built for James Lowry Donaldson Morrison, a U.S. congressman.
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