French nuns edge closer to expanding Illinois operations

MARENGO, Ill. – A French religious order has reached a preliminary agreement with a northern Illinois county that would allow nuns to build a winery, brewery, gift shop and co-ed boarding school there.

The consent decree reached between McHenry County and Fraternite Notre Dame Inc., could end nearly four years of litigation and local opposition to the order expanding its operation in Marengo.

The order sued the county in 2015, alleging that by blocking the expansion the county was violating the U.S. Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act and the Illinois Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

The Chicago Tribune reports that U.S. Magistrate Judge Iain Johnston is scheduled to decide this month whether to approve the agreement.

McHenry County State Attorney Patrick Kenneally and the county board Chairman Jack Franks declined to comment.

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