LANSING, Mich. — The nonprofit organization, Children and Family Charities wants to buy the vacant St. Casimir Church on Sparrow Avenue, but the deal is at a standstill because the Diocese of Lansing doesn’t want to sell to a group that provides services to the transgender youth.
The church’s doors have been closed to the public for 18 months, and a spokesman for the diocese say they’re not in a rush to sell if the future buyer doesn’t comply with ethics set by the Catholic community.
“Whenever the Catholic Church sells a pure building, a place of worship, potentially another entity, there’s always stipulations in that contract that makes sure the building does not contradict the ethical standards of the church,” said David Kerr, communication director for the Diocese of Lansing.
While Children and Family Charities provides a broad range of services for young people, Kerr said the Catholic Church doesn’t support the organization’s work with the transgender community.
“We just don’t believe that surgical and chemical intervention in these cases is the best practice for that person’s health and happiness,” Kerr said. “So if an organization or any organization wants to purchase a Catholic building to do that, that will be a huge stumbling block.”
Nicole Hope is the Lansing Chapter Leader of Transgender Michigan. She called the decision "disappointing" but also said it "isn’t something coming out of the left field for the Catholic Church."
“They could fall back to their religious tenets all they want, but basically what they’re saying is, 'Yeah, we’ll rather let this property sit and be unused rather than helping out the community as a whole,'” Hope said.
Neighbors say they’re in full support of Children and Family Charities taking over the location.
“We witnessed the vast majority of our neighbors show support of the organization,” said neighbor Travis Olson. “We also witnessed our neighbors volunteer with the organization. We all just want to give the organization a space where they can expand all their resources.”
Fox 47 reached out to Children and Family Services but they declined to comment.