CITY COUNCIL President Darrell Clarke is calling on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to hold off plans to demolish a 19th-century church until Vatican officials respond to parishioners' request to intervene.

The Archdiocese says it would cost nearly $3.5 million to restore St. Laurentius Church in Fishtown. It was closed a year ago after officials said portions of the building were in danger of collapse.

Clarke said yesterday that he was disappointed by the demolition decision and had hoped that "all avenues toward preservation of this beautiful and sacred building would first be exhausted."

Parishioners say the church built in the late 1880s was the city's first Polish Roman Catholic church. They say restoring it would cost only $700,000.

- Associated Press