Metro

O’Malley ‘confident’ archdiocese will prevail in Scituate standoff

Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley attended a press conference in Rome last year.
Isabella Bonotto/Associated Press
Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley attended a press conference in Rome last year.

Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said Thursday that he is confident the Boston archdiocese will prevail in a potential US Supreme Court battle with activists who have kept constant vigil at a shuttered parish in Scituate and refused to leave for more than 11 years.

O’Malley, who spoke to a reporter after an interfaith event in Newton, noted that the courts have repeatedly ruled in favor of the archdiocese in its legal dispute with the nonprofit Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini.

In December 2015, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court declined to review a lower court ruling ordering the Friends to vacate the property. That setback prompted the group to formally ask the Supreme Court to review the case last week.

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“I’m confident that the church will prevail in the legal forums, but time will tell,” O’Malley said Thursday night.

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Media representatives for the Friends did not return a call seeking comment late Thursday.

The archdiocese has until April 4 to file a response to the vigil group’s request for high court review. The Supreme Court takes up only a small percentage of the thousands of cases it is asked to consider each year.

The SJC decision in December was the latest development in a legal saga pitting the vigil group against the archdiocese, which closed the church in 2004 along with dozens of others in response to dwindling attendance and shrinking revenue following the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

In May of last year, a Norfolk Superior Court judge ordered the demonstrators to leave, in a ruling stemming from a lawsuit the archdiocese filed after the highest Vatican court, the Apostolic Signatura, denied the vigil group’s appeal to keep the church open.

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The state Appeals Court upheld that ruling in October.

Travis Andersen can be reached at tandersen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TAGlobe.