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SJC rules against St. James the Great parishioners

Posted by Erica Noonan, Globe West May 25, 2007 10:59 AM


The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a lower court ruling that allows the Archdiocese of Boston to keep the property and assets belonging to St. James the Great parish in Wellesley.

In an opinion issued today, the state's highest court upheld a 2006 superior court decision to throw out the case, saying it has no authority to rule on a fiduciary relationship between parishioners and their church.

Catherine Maffei of Wellesley sued the Archdiocese, claiming it was not entitled to keep the building and 8-acres of valuable land along Route 9 after deciding in 2004 to close the parish. Members appealed the closing to the Vatican, and continued to worship there.

Attorneys for the family argued that the property was given to the church in 1948 by Waldo Maffei on the condition that is would ``forever'' house St. James.

The case was watched closely by several other Boston-area parishes in the midst of their own court battles over who is entitled to keep the assets from closed churches.

-- Erica Noonan

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