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Vatican denies St. Frances Xavier Cabrini parishioners’ appeal to save Scituate church

The Vatican has denied an appeal by parishioners holding vigil at the long-shuttered St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church in Scituate to reverse its deconsecration, said a spokesman for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston.

The parish was closed and the doors locked by the archdiocese in October 2004, but parishioners slipped in through a forgotten door and have been holding a round-the-clock vigil ever since.

The church was deconsecrated last July. Under church law, deconsecration turns a house of worship into a secular building.

Parishioners vowed to keep fighting, despite the Vatican’s ruling.

“The story hasn’t changed,’’ said Jon Rogers, a spokesman for the St. Frances vigil group, who received the denial Monday. The document is dated May 4, he said.


The Vatican’s decision will not change the parishioners’ resolve, said Rogers. “We plan to exhaust every appeal open to us.’’

A spokesman for the archdiocese called for the vigil to end.

“The archdiocese continues to work toward a peaceful and prayerful resolution to this vigil,’’ spokesman Terrence Donilon said in an e-mail. “The reality is that those who are participating in this protest are missing out on the fullness of parish life by refusing to end their protest.

“Out of pastoral concern for all impacted by the closing of St. Frances, the archdiocese has allowed the vigil to continue for several years. For the good of our Catholic family, the time has come for this vigil to end.’’

Rogers said that parishioners have no intention of giving up. They had been in vigil for 2,757 days on Monday, according to a ticker on their website.

The group has previously appealed the parish closing, according to the archdiocese, but the Vatican denied that appeal. The latest appeal was aimed at the desconsecration of the church.


“Our next appeal process is to the Apostolic Signatura [the highest court of the Vatican]; we anticipate doing that,’’ Rogers said. “That is something we’re committed to do. We made a promise from day one, and we keep our promises, that we will use every appeal process available to us until the very end.’’

Rogers said he wanted time to study the decree from Rome before he would comment further.

St. Frances is one of just a handful of churches still in vigil after the 2004 reconfiguration of the archdiocese. Before 2004 there were 357 parishes in the archdiocese, according to a spokesman; today, there are 288.

Eight of those closed churches began vigils. Now, only three, including St. Frances, remain occupied. St. James the Great in Wellesley and St. Therese in Everett are also still in vigil, according to the archdiocese.

The archdiocese has repeatedly called for the vigils to end and recently has begun moving to make it happen.

Last month, the archdiocese changed the locks at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston, effectively ending a vigil there.

In early April, the archdiocese signed a purchase-and-sale agreement with the town of Wellesley for the sale of the still-occupied St. James the Great Church. The sale is dependent on Town Meeting approval.

St. James also was deconsecrated last July, and the Vatican denied an appeal by the parishioners to reverse the deconsecration. A spokeswoman for the vigil group said they are still considering whether to pursue a final appeal with the Vatican’s highest court.