A legal battle of biblical proportions continues to play out between a closed, protesting church on the South Shore and the Boston Archdiocese.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley announced Thursday that he has decided to relegate six churches closed in 2004 to “profane use”, meaning they can be used, or sold, for secular uses.
One of those churches is St. Frances X. Cabrini in Scituate, which has been occupied by protesting parishioners 24 hours a day, for the last seven years.
Peter Borre , co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, which has been appealing the church closings to the Vatican for years, says they are already appealing the sale.
Borre says that Rome has shown a reluctance to sell off church assets unless the situation is truly dire.
“If the church is about to collapse, and for Christmas Eve Mass two people and three dogs show up–with all due respect to dogs–maybe that church has had it.”
“But if you look at a Catholic faith community on the South Shore like St. Frances Cabrini, that is strong in both the material and spiritual sense, then there is no valid reason in cannon law for Cardinal O’Malley to sell that off as scrap,” said Borre.
Father Arthur Coyle, the Cardinal’s liaison in the process of relegation, says they don’t intend to sell it as scrap. The properties are being relegating to “profane but not sordid use”, which mean they can’t sell it for purposes which go against the church’s teaching.
“We would not be selling for example any organization that would have anything to do with abortions– that would be the extreme. The ideal is that it would be used for mixed-income housing. Or in some cases, some of these church buildings have actually been sold to other ecclesial communions, other churches of other denominations, and they actually use them for worship,” said Coyle.
Both Borre and Coyle say that the appeal process could go on for several more years.