BOSTON — Parishioners who recently lost appeals to the Vatican to reopen their closed Boston-area churches will continue round-the-clock vigils and plan to make a direct appeal to Pope Benedict XVI.

The leader of a parishioners’ group says five parishes closed by the Archdiocese of Boston in the wake of the clergy sex abuse scandal will continue sit-ins they have held for more than five years.

Peter Borre said the parishes also will file a formal appeal to the pope.

He said the Council of Parishes will boost its efforts to reach out to parishes in danger of closing in other dioceses around the country.

“The purpose of this effort is to bring into focus for Rome the deepening crisis among U.S. parishes,” Borre said.

Last month, the Vatican rejected final appeals by 10 closed parishes.

The archdiocese announced the closings of dozens of churches in 2004, citing falling attendance, a priest shortage and financial problems. The archdiocese has denied the closings were a direct result of the sex abuse scandal.

Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has said the archdiocese wouldn’t remove protesters by force, and wouldn’t act while the appeals to the Vatican were pending.

With final appeals of the closings lost, and with the archdiocese still paying utilities and taxes at the occupied properties, parishioners had to decide what to do next, including whether to keep occupying the buildings, Borre said.

In a statement released Saturday, the archdiocese said it will respond to additional permitted appeals by the parishioners “respectfully.”

“The Archdiocese of Boston is committed to rebuilding our local Church,” said spokesman Terrence Donilon. “Cardinal Sean has kept his word not to take any action during the now concluding appeals process. We continue to welcome any opportunity to work with the parishioners of closed parishes to seek a way to help them join a welcoming parish.”


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