Judge: Protesters Must Leave Closed Scituate Church June 5
The clock is once again ticking for parishioners ordered to leave a shuttered Catholic church south of Boston where they have staged a protest for nearly 11 years.
A Massachusetts judge on Friday denied a request by the Friends of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini Church to suspend his order that they leave the Scituate property, pending the group's appeal to a higher court.
Instead, Norfolk County Superior Court Judge Edward Leibensperger gave them a new deadline of June 5 to leave the premises.
"Defendants may, of course, continue their protest of the decision to close the parish, but they may not do so by an around-the-clock vigil in violation of the (Boston archdiocese's) property rights established by neutral principles of property law," the judge said in his ruling.
Former parishioners have kept a vigil at St. Frances since the archdiocese closed the church in 2004. They want the archdiocese to restore their parish's standing or sell them the building, and say they're prepared to be arrested as trespassers if necessary.
Earlier this month, Leibensperger ruled the group was trespassing on property owned by the archdiocese and should leave before May 29. He temporarily lifted the deadline to consider the group's request, which he denied Friday.
In court filings this week, the archdiocese opposed the delay. But it hasn't said what it would do if protesters refuse to leave. A spokesman declined to comment Friday.
This article was originally published on May 29, 2015.