Boston Catholics seek ways to fight parish closures

Posted: Friday, September 03, 2004

BOSTON (AP) _ Since the Boston Archdiocese announced the closing of 82 parishes, at least a dozen Roman Catholic parishes have followed various tactics to fight to keep their churches open. However, church officials say chances of changing Archbishop Sean O'Malley's mind are remote.

At St. Anselm's in Sudbury, Mass., parishioners hope to raise enough money to buy their church and start a new, independent parish.

St. Albert the Great parish in Weymouth hired a law firm to consider filing a lawsuit against the archdiocese.

St. Jeremiah in Framingham is trying to have the church designated as a historic site, even though it's only 46 years old. Members also want the return of $400,000 they contributed to an archdiocesan drive for long-term projects.

And members of St. Catherine of Siena in Boston are conducting a title search in case a past covenant regarding the 115-year-old building limits use to a Catholic church.

Other Catholics have organized letter-writing campaigns, prayer vigils, petitions and rallies. Last month more than 1,000 attended a protest Mass on Boston Common.

Archdiocesan attorneys expect to seek court approval to use money earmarked for specific uses when it was given to the parishes. State Attorney General Tom Reilly, whose office oversees charitable funds, said he has regulatory control over such funds.

The closings were ordered due to declining attendance, a shortage of priests and upkeep costs for deteriorating buildings. The clergy sex abuse scandal exacerbated problems.

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