St. Stanislaus Expects 800-Plus At Christmas Eve Mass!

Archbishop Raymond Burke excommunicates board members, newly-hired pastor.

By Don Corrigan
"In addition to this atrocity to the Roman Catholic faith, Archbishop Burke continues to perpetuate falsehoods and lies through the Archdiocesan newspaper, The Review." - Richard Bach

Local members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church say they are receiving an outpouring of support in the wake of St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke's excommunication of the church's board and a pastor hired to celebrate Mass at the church. 

Burke made the excommunication public in the Archdiocese Catholic weekly on Dec. 16. In a lengthy explanation, he said the board and its new pastor had created a schism, "a premeditated and most grave act of disobedience to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in communion with him." 

The battle between Burke and St. Stanislaus, located at 1413 N. 20th St. in St. Louis, derives from an old agreement that gave the church board control of the parish property. Burke wants that understanding scrapped and the property ceded to the Archdiocese. 

Burke has removed the church's priest, and the board has responded by arranging for the services of a new priest, the Rev. Marek Bozek. Bozek is to celebrate Mass at 10 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Confessions and carols will begin at 7 p.m. 

In his statement, Burke said only a bishop can appoint a priest to parishes. He also warned that the "faithful who approach a schismatic priest for the reception of sacraments, except in the case of danger of death, commit a mortal sin." 

Roger Krasnicki of Sappington, a legal consultant to the St. Stanislaus board and long-time member of the church, said the calls of support to the church over the past week have filled the phone mail. 

"Based on the phone calls of support, we expect 800 or more to attend the Christmas Eve Mass," said Krasnicki. "We could have 1,200. We can only seat 750, but we will put them in the aisles and wherever we can, if that is what we have to do." 

Krasnicki said the church has about 450 regular members. He said everyone who attends services Dec. 24 is invited for Christmas cookies and decaffeinated coffee at the Polish Heritage Center near the church after the Mass. 

Long-Time Member 

"I am a member of the church, my mother and grandmother have been members of St. Stanislaus," said Krasnicki. "We lived in harmony with the Archdiocese for 120 years. We really didn't have trouble until this new Archbishop Burke came along. 

"We are going to receive the sacraments from our new pastor," added Krasnicki. "This Archbishop is not going to tell us we're committing a mortal sin. It's just a gross misjudgment on his part to threaten us with mortal sin because we won't hand over the church to him." 

Krasnicki said the church board's constant fear is that signing over the church to the Archdiocese will be a death warrant for the parish. He said every document that has been discussed has a loophole that allows for the sale of the church property. 

Krasnicki said it is wrong to say the church separated from the Archdiocese in a schism. He said the Archdiocese broke with St. Stanislaus when it took away the parish priest. 

"Archbishop Burke's action just closes one door and opens another," said Krasnicki. "We are going to file an appeal on his actions to Rome. The seal on the excommunication has not been attached by the Vatican. By the Canon Law of the Church, that needs to happen for this to be final." 

In his message regarding the excommunication, Burke noted that "some have understood the object of the conflict to be power and money. Such is clearly not the case. The object of the conflict is obedience, the obedience we owe to the Apostolic teaching and discipline of the church." 

Burke said he has no interest in the assets of the church, but that his interest is in "the right ordering of parish life at St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish (and) involves money only to the extent that it includes the stewardship of the goods of the parish, according to the ecclesiastical and civil law, and the vigilance over the administration of the temporal goods of the parish." 

St. Stanislaus Church and its property have together been valued at $9.5 million or more and the parish has almost $2 million in trust funds, stocks and bonds. 

Parishioners Group 

Richard Bach of Crestwood, the spokesperson for the Concerned Parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka, said parishioners are upset at media reports that they say make them appear to be "rebellious" and "evil." 

Bach described the actions by Burke as an "atrocity" against the parishioners of St. Stanislaus. 

"The Archbishop of St. Louis, Raymond Burke, has embarrassed every Roman Catholic in the world by his actions," contended Bach. "He has issued, through the media and a press release, public excommunication of the St. Stanislaus 6 (Board of Directors) and Rev. Marek Bozek. 

"In addition to this atrocity to the Roman Catholic faith, Archbishop Burke continues to perpetuate falsehoods and lies through the Archdiocesean newspaper, The Review," Bach said. 

Bach said his group fears Burke will close the church and sell the property to developers, if it is ceded to the Archdiocese. He said Burke has a track record of such closings in his previous diocese appointments. 

He said Burke has never committed himself to keeping the church open. Bach said the church means so much to Polish people throughout the St. Louis area, because it has been a centerpiece of life and culture for the old church parishioners' great-grandparents, grandparents and parents. 

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