Judge Won’t Remove Church Occupiers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (CNS) – Saying that he “cannot conclude that the condition of the steeple presents an emergency such that immediate court intervention is necessary,” a Massachusetts Superior Court judge has denied a motion that would have evicted protesters from a former Catholic church in the Diocese of Springfield.

Ruling on an Oct. 4 motion filed by the diocese, Judge C. Jeffrey Kinder decided that a preliminary injunction that would have allowed law enforcement officials to remove occupiers protesting the closure of Mater Dolorosa Church in Holyoke so that repairs could be made to its damaged steeple was not necessary.

Reacting to the judge’s ruling, diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont said: “Clearly we were disappointed that the court failed to rule on the central issue in this matter upholding our trespassing claim.”

However, he stressed that, “as the judge clearly states, he has offered no ruling or decision on the basic merits of the trespassing case, simply that he will not issue a preliminary injunction at this time.

“Given his failure to issue such an injunction, we will do our best to maintain the safety of the structure while this plays out in the courts,” said Dupont.

The judge noted that an engineer hired by the group Friends of Mater Dolorosa claims that “the bell tower/steeple is clearly not in danger of falling down.”