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Massachusetts Parishioners Lose Bid to Keep Church Open

Nancy Shilts of Scitutate, Massachusetts, (R) hugs a fellow parishioner before a planned final service at St. Frances X. Cabrini Church, May 29, 2016, in Scituate.

Parishioners in Massachusetts held an emotional final service after losing their legal battle to keep open the Catholic Church that many had attended for decades.

Parish members were forced to vacate the St. Frances X. Cabrini Church where they had held an 11-year round-the-clock vigil to keep the building open.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston decided to close the church, along with dozens of others, to deal with declining Mass attendance and other problems.

Members of the church spent the last 11 years fighting that decision, with their legal appeals earlier this month reaching the Supreme Court, which declined to hear their case. Lower courts had ruled that the archdiocese was the legal owner of the church property and had the right to evict church parishioners.

Church members had also appealed their case to the Vatican, but were not successful in persuading church officials to keep the building open.

The Boston archdiocese says it hopes the protesters will go to another Catholic church within the district. Some parishioners told local media that they want to form their own church outside the reach of the Vatican, and say they have begun raising money to build a new parish.