Protesters to exit church after 11 years

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SCITUATE >> For more than 11 years, a core group of about 100 die-hard parishioners of St. Frances X. Cabrini Church have kept their beloved parish open by maintaining an around-the-clock vigil in a peaceful protest of a decision by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston to close it.

On Sunday, the parishioners' efforts will end and they will vacate the Scituate church many of them have attended for decades. Earlier this month, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear their final appeal, leaving them no choice but to end their fight.

The group plans to hold a final service Sunday, a "celebration of faith and transition," the parishioners said, before leaving the church.

The case was heard in civil courts and went all the way to the Vatican, but they were unsuccessful in persuading church officials to keep St. Frances open.

A Superior Court judge ruled that the archdiocese is the legal owner of the church property and has the right to evict the parishioners occupying the church building. That ruling was upheld by the state Appeals Court.

St. Frances X. Cabrini was one of more than 75 parishes closed by the archdiocese to deal with declining Mass attendance, a shortage of priests and deteriorating church buildings. The closings came after a clergy sex abuse crisis rocked the Catholic Church, starting in Boston but extending throughout the world.

Parishioners of some of the closed churches rebelled and held around-the-clock vigils in the churches. At one point, nine churches were occupied by parishioners. St. Frances X. Cabrini is the last church to remain occupied.

The archdiocese hopes the protesters will go to another parish within the district, archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon said.


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