Archbishop Charles J. Chaput has denied the appeals of five Catholic parishes fighting to stay open.
That response leaves Catholics angered by parish mergers with one more option: Sending an appeal to Rome.
At least two parishes are planning to pursue that option, and have hired consultants and attorneys familiar with church law.
"We're prepared to do whatever it takes," said Ralph DiGuiseppe, a parishioner of the former St. Ann parish in Bristol Borough, Bucks County.
St. Ann, built by Italian immigrants, was merged July 1 with St. Mark Parish in Bristol. It was one of 16 parishes that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia closed this month and merged into 13 other nearby parishes.