Boston Archbishop in plea to protesting parishioners
In a final attempt to keep their parishes open, parishioners are continuing to occupy two Boston churches slated for closure.
Earlier this year, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley decided to close 82 of the archdiocese's 357 parishes, saying the closings are necessary because of changing demographics, a dwindling number of priests, and fewer churchgoing Catholics.
The archdiocese planned to close two parishes on Wednesday - St. Anselm in Sudbury and St. James in Medford. This week's closures would have brought the number of parishes closures to 23 since 25 July. But parishioners at St. Anselm began occupying the church in anticipation of its scheduled closing at midday on Wednesday. Parishioners have occupied another church, St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, since 29 August, according to the Boston Globe.
Two other parishes have reportedly filed civil suits, and many have filed canonical appeals. At least one parish has even appealed to the Pope after Archbishop O'Malley rejected the initial appeal, reported the Globe.
Archbishop O'Malley appealed to Catholics on Boston Catholic Television earlier this week, to understand why parishes must close and "to make greater sacrifices" for the good of the archdiocese.
In the interview, the archbishop defended his decision to close parishes, but said he understood some parishioners were unhappy. He made no reference to the occupied churches.
The bishop said he was pleased that many parishes have closed quietly, saying: "In so many parishes, with the excellent leadership of their priests, people have come to understand the painful reality we're going through and embrace it with hope . . . that out of this will come a stronger church."
Archdiocesan spokesman Fr. Christopher J. Coyne told the Globe that the archdiocese is trying to arrange for a mediator to begin communications between the occupied churches and the archdiocese.
Archbishop O'Malley asks for 'greater sacrifices' in church closings (Catholic News Agency 16/9/04)
U.S. Catholics on horn of dilemma (Big News Network 16/9/04)
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17 Sep 2004