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Archdiocese receives Vatican High Court ruling on parish closures

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BRAINTREE -- The Archdiocese of Boston has received official word from the Vatican, which has denied the appeals of nine churches shuttered by the archdiocese in 2004.

In a July 15 statement, archdiocesan spokesman Terry Donilon said that the archdiocese has received Vatican decrees regarding the appeals of the parishes -- St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate, St. Jeremiah in Framingham, St. Anselm in Sudbury, Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere, Infant Jesus-St. Lawrence in Brookline, Star of the Sea in Squantum, St. Michael in Lynn, Ste. Jeanne d'Arc in Lowell, and St. James the Greater in Wellesley.

"While our initial review of the decrees appears to confirm that the Apostolic Signatura has affirmed the earlier decision of the Congregation of the Clergy regarding these closed parishes we look forward to a formal review of the translated text (from Latin to English)," Donilon's statement said in part.

Peter Borre, co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, a group formed to appeal the closures, told the Pilot in May that he learned of the content of the Vatican decrees. An article on the matter appeared in the May 21 edition of the Pilot.

However, Donilon said at that time that the archdiocese had not received the official decrees, and deferred comment until it possessed the decrees from Rome.

The Vatican's decision means the process the archdiocese used to close the parishes complied with Canon Law. The Vatican's ruling leaves the parishes with no other recourse within the Church. However, the parishes could file a civil suit in an American court, according to the Catholic News Service.

After the closings, the Council of Parishes appealed unsuccessfully to the archdiocese and then took the case to the Vatican.

The Congregation of the Clergy, the Vatican office charged with resolving these appeals, upheld the closings. Then, the group appealed to the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican's highest court.

St. Anselm was reopened as a rectorate and Infant Jesus-St. Lawrence was reopened as a worship site of a neighboring parish in 2005.

Round-the-clock vigils have been held at St. Jeremiah, St. James, and St. Frances, as well as St. Therese Parish in Everett and Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish in East Boston.

In 2008, Cardinal O'Malley granted permission to the Syro-Malabar Eparchy of the United States to use St. Jeremiah to serve the Syro-Malabar community in the Framingham area.

In a July 21 interview with the Pilot, Donilon reaffirmed the archdiocese's commitment to "seek a conclusion (to the vigils) that is peaceful and prayerful."

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