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Jesuits closing
Boston church that serves many gays

Jesuits closing
Boston church that serves many gays

A Roman Catholic religious order is closing a Boston church with a largely gay congregation, citing cost pressures.

The Jesuit Urban Center in the city's South End will close at the end of July, said the Reverend Thomas Regan, the superior of the New England Jesuits.

The sexual orientation of many in the congregation did not play a role in the decision, and there was no pressure from the Vatican or the Boston archdiocese to shutter the church, Regan said.

The order has become financially reliant on salaries paid to members who teach at Boston College, College of the Holy Cross, and Fairfield University--all Jesuit schools--but as they retire or die, the order is being forced to cut back on its activities, he said.

About one third of the order's 342 priests in New England are retired.

"A lot of people are still in the church because of the Jesuits,'' Regan said. ''We do not want to abandon these people.... There's a spirit among this group, and I think that's going to be lost, and that's very sad.''

The Jesuit Urban Center costs the order about $350,000 a year to support, and its only significant remaining activity is a weekly Mass attended by 150 to 200 people who generate weekly collections of about $2,400, Regan said. The building, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, was dedicated in 1861 and needs $4 million to $8 million worth of renovations, he said.

Jesuits will continue to welcome gays and lesbians to worship at St. Ignatius of Loyola, a parish they oversee adjacent to Boston College, Regan said. (AP)

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