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Boston Archdiocese Proposes Broad Parish Groupings

The Boston Archdiocese has released a plan to combine its parishes into 125 groups that will share staffing and resources in a move it says will promote evangelization and improve finances.

The archdiocese says parishes within the so-called "pastoral collaboratives" will retain their individual identities, with each assigned a pastor and keeping control of their assets.

The collaboratives can chose collectively whether to merge programs or recommend the archdiocese close and sell church buildings.

The archdiocese says the idea is to improve efficiency in the archdiocese.

But Peter Borre, with the Council of Parishes, a group that fights church closings, says the move will shutter more parishes.

"There's no getting around it," Borre said. "The document speaks of 40 percent of parishes that are operating at a loss. And the archdiocese itself has been hemorrhaging money for the last seven years."

Borre says he expects the plan will also lead to a number of appeals to the Vatican to stop parish closings.

But the archdiocese's Monsignor William Fay disputes that the plan would close more churches.

"Anybody who chooses to spin that in that direction is, I think, more interested in confusing people than helping them," Fay said.

All archdiocesan priests will meet Monday to discuss the plan and parishioners will be consulted in coming months. The changes, if accepted, will take several years to install.

With reporting by The Associated Press and the WBUR Newsroom

This program aired on November 30, 2011. The audio for this program is not available.

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