Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is moving to sell six shuttered churches belonging to the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, removing the sacred standing of the church buildings through decrees made public today.
The decrees satisfy a requirement under canon law that allows the archdiocese to pursue bids to sell the properties for redevelopment.
In three of the churches, according to church officials, parishioners have maintained protest vigils since their parishes were shut down in the middle of the last decade, occupying the church buildings and holding their own lay services.
A highly organized group of protesters at St. Frances Xavier Cabrini, in Scituate, for instance, has worked in shifts for years to maintain an around-the-clock presence.
Two other closed churches, in Everett and Framingham, will live on as houses of worship, O’Malley has decided.
For years, the fate of the closed churches has been the source of a dispute between local Catholic faithful and their archdiocese. Angry Catholics have fought the closings, taking their case to the highest authorities at the Vatican. The Vatican appeals were rejected last year.
O’Malley, who had promised not to sell the buildings until the appeals to Rome were exhausted, is now asking vigil protesters to accept that it is finally time to move on.
“He would ask the faithful to respect his decision, and in areas where there are vigils that there would be a peaceful conclusion,” said the Very Rev. Arthur M. Coyle, the cardinal’s liaison on the long process to prepare the churches for sale.
The protesters, who had anticipated the move by the cardinal, promised today to continue their fight…
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A sign of the desperate times.