Scituate: Vatican denies appeal of closed church; parishoners call decree outrageous

Parishioners at St. Frances X. Cabrini  in Scituate say they are outraged with a ruling by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Clergy, which has upheld a Boston Archdiocese decision to convert their church building to secular use–a step necessary before sale.

The decision announced Monday by the archdiocese is a blow to a protest that was, by far, the strongest remaining of several that broke out after widespread church closings were announced in 2004. In the ruling by its Congregation for the Clergy, the Vatican upheld Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s decision to convert the Scituate church building to profane use.

“I believe this decision is scandalous,” said Jon Rogers, leader of the around the clock vigil at St. Frances X. Cabrini in Scituate. “The rejection of our appeal by the congregation of clergy, the same congregation of clergy that includes the considerable influence of one Bernard Law, is outrageous.”

Rogers says the decision was unjust.  

“We are one of the newest churches in the Archiocese of Boston and it’s amazing that would even be stated,” said Rogers. “We are adamant, after reading our decrees, that this document is just, literally, a regurgitated version of the fictitious reasons behind reconfiguration, and we plan to appeal to the next level: the Apostolic Signatura, or, the Vatican Supreme Court.”

Rogers cites the ruling’s mention of their “request for reversal of suspension” as a reason to question the integrity of the degree, and says there is a litany of serious mistruths.

“They stated that we had sent, on July 18th, a proposal to the ordinary–which is the Cardinal–requesting reversal for suspension,” Rogers added. “[They say] in that request we gave no reasons for that request. You know that’s just beyond silly. I guess we sent them a blank document–we did not.”

Rogers said parishioners will appeal to the Vatican’s high court and demand an immediate investigation into the favoritism being given to the Archdiocese of Boston.

Rogers says the Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal Sean O’Malley had previously stated they would let the appeals process play out. Rogers says they still have two levels of appeal left.

In a Boston Globe article, Archiocese of Boston Spokesman Terrence Donilon declined to say whether the archdiocese would consider changing the locks on the parish, calling it hypothetical, but said that the vigil has to end at some point.

According to the same Boston Globe article, Donilon said that the St. Frances parishioners are pushing for a confrontation that the archdiocese does not want. Rogers, says that’s not true.

“We’ve made an attempt to talk to Cardinal Sean O’Malley anywhere, anytime, about anything–and that includes the parishoners of St. Frances buying back their church. We’re not looking for a free ride here, we are looking for them to do the right thing: sell us our church back,” said Rogers. “And as far as confrontation, the only confrontation will be initiated by the Archdiocese of Boston. And that’s a promise from the peaceful and prayerful parishoners of St. Frances.”

St. Frances X. Cabrini parishoners plan to hold a press conference at 12:30 pm on Tuesday to outline the details of the ruling.

About Steven Dodrill

Steven Dodrill left the WATD news team in 2013. "Follow" him on Twitter At Franklin Pierce, Steven worked to introduce new forms of media like YouTube, and Twitter to the Franklin Pierce community.  Steven graduated Cum Laude and with honors in Mass Communication from Franklin Pierce University in May of 2009. Steven focused his education and experience in New Hampshire around sports broadcasting, digital media, broadcast journalism, news, media production, and political reporting. "Like" him on Facebook Dodrill also interned with the Harwich Mariners of the Cape Cod Baseball League during the summer of 2007, and most recently in the spring of 2009 he completed an internship in the newsroom at WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH.