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Parishioners Sitting Tight Despite Ruling

September 16, 2004|From Associated Press

BOSTON — A judge Wednesday refused to save a Roman Catholic church where parishioners have been holding a sit-in for more than two weeks to protest its closing by the archdiocese.

The church, St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, is one of 82 parishes being closed by the Boston Archdiocese partly because of the financial fallout from the clergy sex scandal.

Parishioners sued over the closing, seeking an injunction that would have barred the archdiocese from selling the church buildings and other assets.

Superior Court Judge Thomas Connolly rejected the parishioners' claim that the church belonged to them and not the archdiocese.

"In making this finding, the court fully appreciates the hurt and suffering and loss suffered by the plaintiffs," Connolly wrote in a footnote. But he said he could not get involved in the dispute because of the constitutional separation between church and state.

He did not, however, dismiss the lawsuit altogether, leaving the parishioners with some hope that they could prevail in their bid to save the church.

The parishioners have held an around-the-clock prayer vigil and sit-in at the church since Aug. 29, when Mass was last celebrated. Archdiocese officials said the parish officially ceased to exist Sept. 1.

Father Christopher Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese, said church officials hoped the ruling would help end the occupation.

Colin Riley, a spokesman for the parishioners, said the sit-in would continue. "We will not leave the property," he said.

A similar sit-in began Sunday at St. Anselm Church in Sudbury, which also has been targeted by the archdiocese.

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