Archdiocese Tries to Evict Parishioners with Sweet Words—No Go

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August 4, 2014; Boston Herald

In June, I wrote a newswire about the decade-long, around-the-clock vigil at the St. Frances X. Cabrini church in Scituate, Massachusetts. Parishioners of the church were protesting the closing of the parish by the archdiocese, which was, at the time, selling off properties to try to get on stable financial footing. That did not go down well with some, including Evelyn Morton, 88, who declared that she would not go quietly. “I’m going to lay on the floor. They’re going to have to carry me out,” swore Morton on Sunday, the 3,568th day of the vigil.

Unfortunately, what was expected to be the group’s last appeal was turned down by the Vatican recently, and Bishop Sean O’Malley has written a tough letter to the faithful, saying, “The Archdiocese has shown its respect and patience for those who have occupied this site over the last nine years…. It is the expectation of the Holy Father that all parties accept this final decision in good faith and in serenity.”

But Peter Borre of the Council of Parishes, a canon law consultant who has also been working with parishioners at East Boston’s Mount Carmel Church, responded that an appeal can be heard again if there is new information, and he says there is—in the most recent annual report of the archdiocese, which shows that over that year, the archdiocese made $41 million in surplus revenues.

He asked, “How do you reconcile the sworn poor-mouthing the Archdiocese uses to justify the selling off of this church with its own numbers?”

Terrence Donilon, speaking for the archdiocese, accused Borre of misleading people:

“The $41 million is mostly money raised by parishes for the parishes. So even though it shows up on the combined statements of the archdiocese’s books, it cannot be tapped by the archdiocese for any purpose it chooses (i.e., their suggestion to reopen St. Frances). These are the resources of the parishes.

“While our overall financial situation has stabilized, I can assure the faithful we are not operating with a surplus and there are many major challenges remaining…. That said, we continue to seek a peaceful and prayerful resolution to the vigil.”

Why do we think this spokesman may have lost his credibility here?—Ruth McCambridge