St. Stanislaus removed from church.


Published Saturday, January 7, 2006.
By Linda Leicht  


The Roman Catholic Church has taken another step to separate itself from a St. Louis church led by an excommunicated former Springfield priest.

Father Marek Bozek was having an otherwise quiet week at St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish Catholic Parish in St. Louis, when the chilling announcement arrived in Thursday's mail.

The parish had been officially removed from the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Roman Catholic Church.

Bozek opened an envelope that included a decree of suppression of the parish. The action is one in a series of steps Archbishop Raymond Burke has taken in response to the parish's refusal to change its corporate structure to put it under the archbishop's control.

"Since the civil legal control of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish belongs exclusively to the members of the board of directors of the civil corporation and they have chosen to lead the members of the parish into schism, I will be obliged to suppress (the) parish," Burke stated in a Dec. 16 column in the St. Louis Review, the newspaper of the archdiocese.

He followed through on that warning, signing a decree of suppression on Dec. 29 although the decree was not made public until Jan. 5. Burke announced the automatic excommunication of the board of trustees at St. Stanislaus, as well as Bozek, on Dec. 16.

"I believe this is a move motivated by panic and fear," said Bozek.

The board has appealed the action as well as an earlier interdict, which prohibited the Masses or other sacraments being celebrated in the church, and the excommunications.

"We are patiently waiting for a response from the Vatican," he said.

Charles W. Wilson of the St. Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, an organization of canon lawyers, said the archbishop has the legal right to dissolve any parish within its jurisdiction. By church law, all parishes, he said, must be "embraced" by a diocese or archdiocese.

Suppression is a routine method of closing a parish, he said.

Because the St. Stanislaus parish corporation owns the property, part of the conflict with Burke, the archdiocese cannot close or sell the property.

The members of the parish are not removed from the rolls of the church, Wilson said. Instead, they are automatically shifted to the parish where they live, or they can transfer to St. Agatha's parish in St. Louis, which Burke has made the official Polish parish in the archdiocese. That is a role that St. Stanislaus has held for 125 years.

An appeal of the suppression must be made within 10 days, Wilson said. After filing the appeal, the action is suspended until a decision is made by the Vatican.
The St. Joseph Foundation has been involved in more than 70 cases of suppression. None of the appeals have been successful, Wilson said.

For St. Stanislaus, the action will not change anything, said Bozek.

"I have already received dozens of phone calls from people who say they are going to attend our church Sunday in support."

Since Bozek celebrated his first Mass as St. Stanislaus' priest on Dec. 24, the pews have been full beyond the parish's 450 members, he said.

"We expect even bigger this weekend," Bozek said.