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MONONGAHELA, Pa. (AP) – A judge has rejected a lawsuit that attempted to block Pittsburgh Catholic Diocese Bishop David Zubik’s plan to close a Washington County church that prompted protests by parishioners who sought to keep it open.

The Washington County judge said reviewing the decision by Bishop Zubik on the closure of St. Anthony’s church in Monongahela would involve an unconstitutional meddling in religious affairs.

St. Anthony was merged with Transfiguration church, also in Monongahela, to form St. Damien parish in 2011. Parishioners of St. Anthony, which opened in 1904, protested Bishop Zubik’s eventual 2014 plan for permanent closure.

Bishop Zubik released this statement regarding the judge’s decision:

“This ruling regarding the former Saint Anthony building is faithful to the First Amendment of our nation’s Constitution, which prohibits the government from interfering in the establishment and religious mission of a house of worship. Judge Katherine Emery also highlighted the extensive and open consultation that preceded my decisions regarding Saint Anthony. I am grateful to Judge Emery and to God for this decision.

“My prayer is that those who were grieved by the closing of Saint Anthony will join with their sisters and brothers at Saint Damien of Molokai Parish to bring the faith to new generations of Catholics in Monongahela.”

(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)