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St. Frances parishioners hold out hope for their church

Posted by dinouye  September 18, 2011 02:35 PM

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Despite church officials’ decision to sell the parish rectory, members of the group maintaining a vigil at St. Frances X. Cabrini Church in Scituate say they believe canonical courts in Rome could decide as early as next month to block the sale of their church.

Jon Rogers, a spokesman for the Friends of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church, said his group was not surprised by the Boston Archdiocese’s recent move to hire a real estate broker to sell the closed parish’s rectory, which provided a home for the parish priest.

“We were prepared for this,’’ he said. “We truly believe that all the T’s are crossed and the I’s dotted, and there’s a really good chance that justice prevails and we will get our church back.’’ The word from the group’s representative in Rome is that a ruling will come soon, he said.

The archdiocese’s action follows Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s decision to deconsecrate the church buildings of six parishes originally closed seven years ago. Deconsecration, known officially as “relegation to profane use,’’ is necessary by Roman Catholic canon law before buildings used for church services can be put to nonsacred uses and offered for sale.

Although the St. Francis rectory did not require deconsecration - it was not a building where Mass or other sacraments took place - congregation members believe officials will sell the church, other buildings, and property if the deconsecration order holds up. At present, only the rectory building is being offered for sale.

Archdiocese officials said O’Malley waited until all the appeals of the parish closings had been heard and the “suppression’’ of the parishes upheld by Rome before putting parish properties up for sale. The Vatican courts upheld the archdiocese’s right to close the parishes at the end of last year.

“The cardinal was committed to not taking action on any of the parish properties until the appeals from the closings of 2004 were exhausted,’’ said archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon. “The cardinal kept his word.’’

Donilon also said the archdiocese’s decision to sell the rectory followed an “extensive consultation with the faithful.’’ After asking for comments over the Internet on the deconsecration of the six parishes, officials received objections from only 300 people out of the Boston Archdiocese’s 1.8 million Catholics, he said.

In addition to St. Frances, the cardinal last month relegated to profane use Star of the Sea in Quincy, St. James the Great in Wellesley, St. Jeanne D’Arc in Lowell, Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere, and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston.

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