Boston’s Closed Parishes Costly
In January, the Boston Archdiocese sent a memo to priests saying it is spending $880,000 per year to maintain churches originally slated to close but now kept open because of pending civil and canonical appeals and parishioner vigils.
But Lorenzo Grassi reported that the vigil committee for Our Lady of Mount Carmel has paid its own heating fuel for over three years. Another Boston activist, Arthur McCaffrey pointed out that “a major reason why the Archdiocese continues to pay bills for closed parishes (despite offers from vigillers to pay their own bills) is that transfer of utility bills to customers is recognition of property ownership by the customers, or at least legitimate tenancy.”
Peter Borre was quoted in the Globe article saying, “Parishioners were told during reconfiguration that all monies raised from the closing of parishes would be used for the benefit of the parishes, but close to half of the proceeds were used for [archdiocesan] overhead.” Borre is co-chairman of the Council of Parishes, a coalition of Catholics opposed to the church closings.
The memo to Boston priests also said that the archdiocese, which closed some 75 parishes since 2004, realized just $62.7 million from the sale of closed parishes, much less that the several hundred million originally anticipated. The archdiocese still has 22 unsold properties - including 14 tied up by challenges - that would be worth an estimated $31 million if sold. It is not clear how long the civil and canonical appeals will take. (Boston Globe 1/18/08 and Internet Reports)