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BY ALBERT AMATEAU | The state’s highest court, the Court of Appeals in Albany, decided unanimously on Tuesday to deny the move by the Lithuanian-American parishioners of Our Lady of Vilnius to overturn the Catholic Archdiocese of New York’s decision to demolish the 100-year-old church near the entrance to the Holland Tunnel.
It was a sad ending for parishioners who have been holding vigils on the church steps on Broome St. every weekend since October 2007, when the archdiocese dissolved the parish and the church board of trustees voted to demolish the building.
Mindaugas (“Gus”) Blaudziunas, who filed the suit in Manhattan State Supreme Court in 2008, said he and other parishioners would be conferring with their attorney, Harry Kresky, about any possible appeal.
“We had a vigil at the church last weekend and decided to interrupt them for two weeks for Christmas and pick up again after New Year’s,” he said on Wednesday.
But that was before the Court of Appeals decision came down.
“We have to depend on the mercy of the archdiocese. The Bible says they have to be merciful,” Blaudziunas said.
The decision appears to be a final settlement in favor of the archdiocese of whether state law grants the former parishioners the authority to challenge the board of trustees’ decision to demolish the church.
“We hold that it does not,” said the eight-page decision written by Judge Theodore Jones, with the other six judges concurring.
The law gives members of the Our Lady of Vilnius board of trustees — the majority of whose members are Catholic clergy — and the bishop of the diocese, the power to control and administer church property, the decision says.
The parishioners are members of an ecclesiastical body, but are not members of the board of trustees, the decision adds.