In a final attempt to keep their parishes open, parishioners continue to occupy two Boston churches slated for closure, reported the Boston Globe.
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.
However, some parishioners are unhappy about the archbishop’s decision and have taken radical action to keep their churches open.
The archdiocese planned to close two parishes yesterday, St. Anselm in Sudbury and St. James in Medford, which would have brought the number of parishes closures to 23 since July 25. But parishioners at St. Anselm began occupying the church in anticipation of its scheduled closing at noon yesterday. Parishioners have occupied another church, St. Albert the Great in Weymouth, since Aug. 29, said the 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 Sept. 14, 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.