Wall Street Journal Letters to the Editor, 24 Dec. 2005
Devoted Parishioners Threatened by a Bishop.
As a St. Louis resident and a member of the Catholic church, I am deeply offended and saddened by the actions of Archbishop Raymond L. Burke and his team of prosecutors attempting to uphold canon law ("Out of Line: A Catholic Parish Pays High Price for Independence," page one, Dec. 20). He would be best served adopting a philosophy made popular by the bracelets seen worn by Christians throughout the country: WWJD -- What Would Jesus Do? Canon law is as a matter of historical fact; man's law, not God's law. If this debate was held in front of the Pearly Gates, I am quite confident the outcome wouldn't result in the excommunication of devoted parishioners and clergy. Although I don't typically attend St. Stanislaus, I plan to attend Christmas Mass at that parish to show my support for the parishioners' mission. I don't, however, plan to repent in any way for spending time worshipping with a devoted group of followers who are simply asserting their independence under the leadership of a bishop engaged in a land-grab under the guise of a divine quest.
As a lifelong Roman Catholic educated by the Sisters of St. Bronislava Church, a Polish parish in Chicago, I applaud St. Stan's board and their position of not rolling over for an arrogant and autocratic archbishop. I was taught that religious matters, not money, were reasons for excommunication. Alas, money has proven to be a historical prime driver for the Catholic Church, much to its shame.
Roberta Banaszak Gleiter
I wouldn't be so upset with the Catholic church hierarchy had they not tried to cover up the child-abuse scandals. They are quick to say that each parish is independent when there is a question of abuse, but quicker to say that the diocese owns the assets and controls what can or cannot be built. Who gave the power to the bishop of any diocese the right to excommunicate a God-fearing and believing group over a matter of who owns a parish church and its assets? Is the bishop telling these folks they are no longer worthy to be called believers? Where did Christ tell his disciples to institute a body of Canon Law, stipulating that the bishops own the assets? I thought this was all about redemption and man's relationship with God and with his fellow man. Somewhere along the way we have lost the meaning of the message.
My heart goes out to the parishioners of St. Stan's Church. I have much empathy with them. I will continue to go to church, say my prayers and I will certainly repeat the Ojcze Nasz and ask our God above to give us all guidance and help. Perhaps he will give us the grace and wisdom to get the logs out of our eyes and see the true meaning of Christ's message.
Eugene J. Wolski, M.D.
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