Vatican official seeks mediator in St. Stanislaus dispute.
By Jim Salter
Associated Press
03/07/2005
 
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- A Polish archbishop at the Vatican is intervening to try and resolve a dispute between a Polish parish and the St. Louis archdiocese, parish members said Monday.

Archbishop Szczepan Wesoly (pronounced SCHEP'-ahn Vee-uh-SO'-wee) expressed his support in a letter in Polish dated March 4 to the board of directors at St. Stanislaus Kostka parish.

"He is suggesting the Polish Conference of Bishops get involved and wants to have a mediator mediate this dispute," said Roger Krasnicki, a spokesman for the parish board of directors.

Wesoly wrote that the Pope has proclaimed this the "Year of the Eucharist."

"Precisely this year a bishop prohibits the participation in the sacraments, over a dispute in material matters rather than in spiritual ones," according to a translation of Wesoly's letter provided by St. Stanislaus member Richard Bach. "The Easter season is approaching and everything should be done to promote participation in the sacraments."

Archdiocese spokesman Jamie Allman said Archbishop Raymond Burke "has always been open to resolving this," but that formal mediation is not an option when canon law is in dispute.

St. Stanislaus was established by Polish immigrants. In 1891, an archbishop deeded the property to a civic corporation of parishioners. The way the property and assets are governed -- by the laity and not church leaders -- created the on-going dispute that began under previous Archbishop Justin Rigali.

The dispute has escalated under Burke, who took over last year after Rigali became the cardinal of Philadelphia. In August, Rigali removed both priests from St. Stanislaus, though the parish continues to hold prayer services.

Parishioners voted 299-5 in January against surrendering control of the assets. In February, Burke issued an interdict, which denies Communion and other Roman Catholic sacraments against St. Stanislaus' six-member board.

Krasnicki doubted the offer of mediation would do any good, and a Vatican expert agreed.

"I can tell you we have offered on several occasions to have the dispute mediated by someone acceptable to both sides," Krasnicki said. "That has been turned down -- simply not responded to by the archdiocese -- in the past."

But Allman said it was the parish that has cut off communication.

Wesoly has no direct jurisdiction in the dispute, but is close to the pope, Krasnicki said.

For years, Wesoly was personal assistant to the pope, who is also Polish. Now, Wesoly is in charge of Polonia -- all Polish people and people of Polish origin not living in Poland, Krasnicki said.

The Rev. Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America and a Vatican expert, doubted those credentials will help St. Stanislaus.

"When you're dealing with something that's a matter of law and jurisdiction, normally you have to go through proper channels," Reese said. "But anytime you can resolve something through mediation or simply through discussion, that's OK, too."

On the Net:

Archdiocese of St. Louis, http://www.archstl.org
Church group: http://www.saveststans.com


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