St. Stanislaus out of Catholic church!

By Aisha Sultan

Nearly two years after he took over as the leader of St. Louis Catholics, Archbishop Raymond Burke has officially removed a thorn that has caused constant friction.

St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is no longer considered a Roman Catholic parish of the archdiocese, according to a letter Burke sent to its board of directors last week. In the letter, Burke wrote that he is compelled to suppress the church because it continues to operate independently of the Archdiocese.

The move follows the excommunication of the six board members that control the finances of the church. But those outcasted leaders are holding their ground.

"It doesn't affect us at all," said board member Bob Zabielski. " We will continue our Roman Catholic services."

The board hired their own priest after Burke removed the parish priest a year ago in a dispute about who has financial authority over the parish north of downtown. The dispute between Burke and St. Stanislaus dates to a late 19th-century arrangement that originally gave the parish board control of the church property. Burke has demanded that the church conform to the same legal structure as the rest of the diocese's parishes

There are a few practical implications of the order for the church, such as obtaining their own insurance and tax exempt status. St. Stanislaus will also lose its listing in the archdioceses' official directory.

But the larger issue is whether this decree clears the way for a lawsuit against the board members. The original articles of agreement state the purpose of the corporation is to unite a church congregation of Polish Roman Catholics to maintain a Polish Roman Catholic Church.

Bernard Huger, a lawyer for the archdiocese, points out that the church is no longer an Roman Catholic parish. While the Archdiocese has not acted upon that inconsistency, someone else may, he said.

Zabielski said the board expects the punishment against the church to escalate and will probably lead to a lawsuit against them.

"They're doing everything they can to get the property," he said.

Burke wrote in his letter that he issued the decree "with great sadness given the parish's long history" and prays daily for reconciliation.

Tim Townsend of the Post-Dispatch contributed to this report.

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