The continuing saga of St. Stanislaus Kostka parish in St. Louis seems no closer to coming to an end. A story in the New York Times last week gives an update and overview on the long running dispute between a renegade congregation and the local ordinary. This entire episode serves to reinforce the importance of maintaining unity with the bishop in the local church.
The controversy, involving the control of the temporal goods of the parish, centered on whether the property and monetary assets would be controlled by a pastor appointed by the archbishop, which is the canonical norm, or by a lay board of directors. The controversy began under Cardinal John J. Glennon and continued under Cardinal Joseph Ritter, Archbishop John L. May, Cardinal Justin Rigali and continued under Archbishop Emeritus Raymond Leo Burke.
After Archbishop Burke removed the priests from the parish, the lay board sought their own priest and convinced Fr. Marek Bozek to leave his diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau without the permission of his ordinary. Fr. Bozek incurred excommunication for creating a schism and was laicized. The lay board members also incurred the penalty of excommunication.
But the story keeps getting better. After the Vatican upheld the actions of Archbishop Burke in announcing the excommunications and in suppressing the parish, the members of the lay board reconciled themselves fully to the Catholic Church. However, Mr. (formerly Fr.) Bozek installed a new lay board and continues to hold services.
It seems that Fr. Bozek has an agenda of his own in calling for the ordination of women to the priesthood, dropping of celibacy, and opening priesthood to practicing homosexuals. Most of the former parishioners have left St. Stan's, but Bozek apparently has attracted a sufficient number of new "progressive" congregants that a proposed settlement with the Archdiocese was rejected by a vote of 257 to 185. It should be noted that those former parishioners who chose to not support the now laicized Bozek and went to other Catholic Churches, were not allowed to vote.
One can follow the rather dizzying trail of this story on the web site of the Archdiocese and the numerous statements and articles archived thereon. (link here) It is a sad and painful tale that is still unfolding. Pray for the people of St. Stanislaus Kostka.
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