July 15, 2011
BOSTON — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has decided to sell off six churches that have been closed since 2004. The decision to sell follows a decree that the churches may be offered up for secular use.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s announcement comes after the Vatican’s rejection of appeals by parishioners, some of whom have occupied several of the churches for years. Father Arthur Coyle, the cardinal’s liaison for the process of selling church properties, said he’s hopeful that parishioners who have been occupying closed churches in Wellesley, Scituate and East Boston will accept the decision.
“We would hope that through discussions and so forth, these people would join their fellow parishioners in other parishes and move on,” O’Malley said.
The spokesman for the Archdiocese, Terry Donilon, said that despite the Cardinal’s success in closing a $15 million annual Central Ministries deficit, serious structural problems remain.
“We have significant challenges both in our capital needs for churches and in the ability to overcome the very distinct and drastic decline in the number of people coming to Mass,” Donilon said.
The parishioners who have been holding lay services in some of these churches are considering how to respond. One member, Jon Rogers, who has been among those fighting the closure of St. Francis Xavier Cabrini in Scituate, said that he and other protestors would happily buy the church if given the opportunity.
While Father Coyle said he expects that those opposed to the sale will again appeal the decision to the Vatican, Rogers said the parishioners have had enough of such appeals and hope to find a new solution.
“If all else fails and they don’t want us, please: return the church to its rightful owners and let us practice our beliefs as we see fit,” he said.