A Polish church that has been under construction since 1791 and is now intended to celebrate the Polish-born Pope John Paul II is facing further delays in the form of financial difficulties, the Associated Press reports.
“If we fail to raise enough money, we will be forced to suspend the building work,” said Father Janusz Bodzon, vice president of a church foundation overseeing the project.
The Catholic Church in Poland has already spent 50 million zlotys(US$20 million) on the massive basilica project, and construction is about 60 percent completed. However, an additional 50 million zlotys is needed.
The church plans to launch a new fundraising campaign in the spring, primarily aimed at young Poles who have a special affection for the late Pope.
Pope John Paul II consecrated a new cornerstone for the project in 1999. “Let this Temple become a place of particular thanksgiving for the freedom of the fatherland,” he prayed. He also said, “I pray that painful experiences never interrupt this offering; we all have been waiting for 200 years.”
The church was originally approved in 1791 by the Polish parliament as a votive offering of thanks after the proclamation of the nation’s first constitution, but construction ceased the next year. A second attempt at construction began after Polish independence in 1918, but was halted because of economic problems and World War II. After the collapse of communism the Polish government again revived the project in 1989, this time to celebrate national freedom and Pope John Paul II.