MONONGAHELA, Pa. — A judge has rejected a lawsuit that attempted to block a Catholic bishop’s plan to close a southwestern Pennsylvania church that prompted protests by parishioners who sought to keep it open.

The Washington County judge said reviewing the decision by Bishop David Zubik of the Diocese of Pittsburgh on closure of St. Anthony’s church in Monongahela (muh-nahn-guh-HAYL’-uh) would involve an unconstitutional meddling in religious affairs.

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

Zubik said in a statement Wednesday that he hoped those “grieved” by the closure would join with others at St. Damien to “bring the faith to new generations of Catholics in Monongahela.”