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BOSTON — Cardinal Sean O’Malley has paved the way for the Boston Archdiocese to sell six churches, including three where parishioners have been holding protest vigils since their parishes were closed in 2004.

The decision announced Thursday after several weeks of “consultation, reflection and prayer” means the churches are no longer holy places, but secular buildings.

The church term for the move - “relegation for profane use” - means the churches can be sold and used for other purposes in line with Roman Catholic values, including as places of worship by other denominations, affordable housing or community centers.

The churches deconsecrated are St. James the Great in Wellesley; St. Jeanne D’Arc in Lowell; Star of the Sea in Quincy; Our Lady of Lourdes in Revere; St. Frances Xavier Cabrini in Scituate; and Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston.

Vigils are still being held at the Wellesley, Scituate and East Boston churches.

MISSOURI

Late-term abortion bill to become law

JEFFERSON CITY — Gov. Jay Nixon says he will let a measure restricting late-term abortions take effect without his signature.

Mr. Nixon said he would not sign the bill by the Thursday deadline, but will allow it to become law.

Missouri already bans abortions of viable fetuses except to preserve the life or health of the woman. The new law removes the general health exception and allows such abortions only to save the woman’s life or when pregnancy poses a serious risk of substantial physical impairment to a major bodily function.

The law is part of a trend among states to limit abortions past the point when a fetus may be able to live outside the womb. Unlike in some other states, Missouri’s proposal allows doctors to determine viability on a case-by-case basis.

MONTANA

Oil spill cause could take months to find

It will likely be months before investigators know what caused an ExxonMobil oil pipeline to rupture near Billings spilling about 1,000 barrels of crude oil into the Yellowstone River, a federal safety official said Thursday.

Thus far, investigators are unaware of any safety violations by ExxonMobil related to the spill, Cynthia Quarterman, administrator of the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration told a congressional hearing. The spill has fouled shoreline and contaminated backwaters along dozens of miles of the scenic river.

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