December 2015 Church & State | AU Bulletin

Catholic officials have the right to close St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate, Mass., despite the objections of its parishioners, a court has ruled.

A group of parishioners, who call themselves the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini, have maintained an 11-year round-the-clock vigil in an attempt to keep the church open, reported the Boston Globe. The Archdiocese of Boston scheduled the church and dozens of others for closure in a restructuring move. In February, it sued the Friends for their refusal to vacate the property.

The Friends have argued in court that the parishioners actually own the building since their donations supported it, but courts have not been sympathetic to the argument.

In October, the state Appeals Court ruled that church officials have the right to control the building.

“While we acknowledge the defendants’ heartfelt beliefs that they are entitled to remain on the premises as an exercise of their freedom of religion, the judge’s conclusion that the defendants are trespassers is supported by the evidence,” the court ruled.

Archdiocese spokesman Terrence C. Donilon applauded the decision in a statement. “We appreciate the court having taken the time to review this matter and issue its ruling. We ask the Friends of St. Frances to respect that decision and conclude the vigil,” he said.

The Friends group is pursuing an appeal to Massachusetts’ Supreme Judicial Court. (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Boston v. Rogers)