Knights purchase Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington

This afternoon in Denver Supreme Knight Carl Anderson announced that the Knights of Columbus will purchase the Pope John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington. The announcement came during the business session of the Knights 129th annual convention, being held Aug. 2-4 in the Mile High City.

Anderson, delivering his annual report, said over the next year the fraternal organization will build a shrine to Blessed John Paul and put up related exhibits on the property. “True to Pope John Paul II’s vision, and using the story of his life as inspiration, the shrine will be an opportunity to evangelize and spread the good news of the Gospel through a new evangelization,” he said.

(CNS photo by Nancy Wiechec)

The center sits on on 12 acres near The Catholic University of America, the center cost $75 million to build and the property has been valued at $37.7 million. The selling price had not been disclosed.

The complex, which went up for sale sometime last year, has been overseen by a foundation chaired by Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl of Washington.

The center, which opened in 2001 with financial backing from the Detroit
Archdiocese, has experienced financial difficulties throughout its history as it
never attracted the number of visitors it expected. In 2006, because of low
attendance rates, it discontinued museum activities and focused on being a place  of research on the pontiff.

The Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist signed an agreement with the Archdiocese of Detroit last August to buy the facility as a house of studies for its members, but the order said in March it decided not to go through with the purchase after determining it would cost too much to remodel the space to meet its needs.

In May the center was opened for a celebration of Pope John Paul II’s beatification.

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