Court rules against parishioners trying to save old church

MELROSE, Minn. (AP) A group of parishioners trying to save a historic church in central Minnesota has lost an appeal.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals has rejected an attempt by members of the Catholic Church of St. Mary in Melrose to save the 118-year-old structure.

An arson fire heavily damaged the church in 2016 and the Diocese of St. Cloud eventually decided to demolish it and build a new one. The St. Cloud Times reports a group called Friends to Restore St. Mary's sued the parish, the diocese and Bishop Donald Kettler, arguing that the church is a natural resource and cannot be demolished under the Minnesota Environmental Rights Act.

A lower court ruled the diocese has the right to decide internal matters. On Tuesday, the appeals court agreed.