Catholic parishioners in Boston fight to keep churches
A group of Roman Catholic parishioners in Boston is determined to contest a move by the Archdiocese of Boston to sell six shuttered churches to buyers who may use the buildings for secular purposes.
“It’s where we come to practice our faith and to hold to our beliefs that it is not just a building,” Jon Rogers, spokesman of Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate, told Boston Herald.
The group in St.Frances has held vigil since Oct. 2004, organizing themselves into shifts so that the church is being watched around the clock. Rogers, 52, told Boston Herald, “We know the archdiocese needs the money, but you know what, not at our expense.”
Other churches in Massachusetts that will be up for sale are St. Jeanne D’Arc in Lowell; Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere; Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston; St. James the Great in Wellesley; and Star of the Sea in Quincey, the archdiocese announced in a statement.
Two churches, however, will still be retained for “other future ecclesial uses,” the statement from the archdiocese said. These churches are St. Jeremiah in Framingham and St. Therese in Everett.
A public decree has already stated that the churches can now be used for secular purposes. This decree was needed so that the archdiocese may, under canon law, accept bids for the properties.
Since February, Cardinal Sean O’ Malley held dialogues with the Catholic community regarding the churches. The archdiocese said O’ Malley made sure that “every means of civil and canonical appeal regarding closed parishes to be pursued over the past six years,” was taken into consideration.
In a statement to parishioners, O’ Malley said, “I want you to know I have heard you. I appreciate your strong commitment to your parish. What I have heard from these consultations is that we have reached a point as a community of believers where we must relegate these church buildings as part of the continuing healing and rebuilding of the Archdiocese,” Boston Herald reported.
O’ Malley was referring here to moves by some angry parishioners who brought the dispute up to the Vatican, but whose appeals were rejected in 2010.
“[O’ Malley] would ask the faithful to respect his decision, and in areas where there are vigils, that there would be a peaceful conclusion,” Rev. Arthur M. Coyle, who is tasked to coordinate the sale of the churches, told The Boston Globe.
“I can’t respect that decision,” protestor Marsha Devir told The Boston Globe. She is holding vigilance at St. Frances Cabrini, where the group has set up beds, easy chairs and a television set.
Devir told The Boston Globe that she plans to stay until she “gets pulled out of here by the police.”
Elsewhere, at Our Lady of Lourdes, John Verrengia, 55, told Boston Herald, “I don’t see how [the closing] is going to promote healing. It just continues to promote disillusionment with their thought process.”
Rebirth of Catholicism
Peter Borre, who chairs the Council of Parishes, told Boston Herald, “Some American bishops, like Cardinal O’ Malley, seem ready to give up, close down churches and sell them off as scrap. An increasing number of churchmen in Rome see the possibility of a rebirth of Catholicism in America and don’t want churches destroyed.”