St. Stan pastor offers Burke a deal....

By Tim Townsend

ST. LOUIS -- After an hour-long meeting with St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke Tuesday morning, the Rev. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka church, told 250 supporters outside the Catholic Center on Lindell Blvd. that he'd made an offer to Burke during their meeting.

Bozek, 32, handed out copies of a letter he'd presented Burke stating that if the archbishop were to "revoke all canonical penalties...i.e. the penalty of interdict, the penalty of excommunication, the suppression of the Parish," promise to keep St. Stanislaus open, provide the parish with a priest and "respect the current status quo of the governance of the ownership title and temporary goods" of the church, Bozek would "seriously consider" leaving St. Stanislaus and returning to his own diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau "or live monastic life in a Benedictine Abbey of my choice." He also said he would be willing to repent and publicly apologize as Burke has requested.

Bozek gave the archbishop 72 hours to accept his offer. Burke's reaction, Bozek said later at a lunch with his supporters, "was negative."

Last month, Burke began the laicization, or defrocking, process to return Bozek to the status of a layman. Bozek met with Burke Tuesday for "canonical admonition" after participating in a ceremony at Central Reform Congregation in November when two women were ordained as priests of an organization called Roman Catholic Womenpriests. The Roman Catholic church does not ordain women as priests. Both women were present at a rain-soaked prayer vigil held outside the Catholic Center Tuesday. About 20 Catholics supporting Burke set up their own prayer vigil on the opposite side of the courtyard in front of the building.

Burke declared Bozek excommunicated in late 2005, after Bozek left his parish in Springfield and agreed to pastor St. Stanislaus. Burke and the Polish-heritage parishioners of St. Stanislaus had been in a legal battle over control of the church for nearly two years when the church's lay board of directors hired Bozek as pastor. Burke had removed St. Stanislaus' two priests 18 months earlier. The archbishop subsequently declared all six of the church's board members excommunicated, and in January 2006, Burke suppressed the parish itself, meaning St. Stanislaus was stripped of its standing as a Roman Catholic church.

All of the board members have appealed the excommunications to the Vatican, which is still considering their cases. In November Burke told two new board members that they would be declared excommunicated if they joined the church's leadership. 314-340-8221

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