Thursday, July 24, 2008

Update on St Stanislas Kostka

Interior shot of St. Stanislas Kostka, more photos here :

The following is from the St. Louis Dispatch:

By Heather Ratcliffe
07/24/2008St. Louis — The Archdiocese of St. Louis and six current and former members of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church filed a lawsuit Wednesday that they believe will lead to a compromise on how the parish will be managed.The plaintiffs are asking a judge to restore the structure of the parish to the way it was before 2001, when the St. Stanislaus board controlled the property and assets while the archbishop appointed board members and a pastor.

Archdiocese officials said St. Stanislaus would be unlike any other parish in St. Louis under this structure. They hope the lawsuit will lead to a compromise, one that the archdiocese is willing to make if it leads to reconciliation with the historically Polish parish, officials said."We want to do everything we can to bring healing to St. Stanislaus," said Bishop Robert Hermann, who is the acting leader of the archdiocese.

The parish had managed itself in a special arrangement dating back to the 19th century. Tension between St. Stanislaus and the archdiocese escalated in 2004, when the church's lay leaders refused the archdiocese's instructions to conform to the same legal and financial structure as all other parishes. Then-Archbishop Raymond Burke responded by removing the pastors.

The Rev. Marek Bozek, who is serving as pastor at St. Stanislaus, said his parishioners had been asking the archdiocese to honor the century-old agreement since the beginning of the dispute."I will be the happiest person if reconciling is possible," Bozek said Wednesday. "If they are saying that they are willing to go back to the original agreement, it proves that we are right." {This is true Fr. Bozek, but it may also be about something else entirely removed from this dispute.}

The Polish-born Bozek left his assignment in Springfield, Mo., without permission from his bishop to become St. Stanislaus' pastor in December 2005. Burke quickly declared that Bozek had excommunicated himself by committing "schism."Soon afterward, the archbishop declared the St. Stanislaus board members to be excommunicated and stripped the parish of its standing as a Roman Catholic parish.

Conflict eventually developed among board members. They split 3-3 in a vote to remove Bozek last month. In a subsequent vote in which Bozek participated, the board voted 4-3 to dissolve itself and allow the parishioners to elect a new board at its annual meeting in August.

The three dissenting board members, Bernice Krauze, Stanley Rozanski and Robert Zabielski, each met with Burke one-on-one in June to discuss reconciliation. They have since been granted absolution from excommunication. The three recent board members and other parishioners joined the archdiocese in the lawsuit. They are asking a St. Louis judge to void any changes to the St. Stanislaus' bylaws since 2001. They are also asking for a temporary injunction to keep the St. Stanislaus parishioners from electing new board members, using church funds, altering or removing church records, and removing sacred items from the church.

St. Louis Circuit Judge Bryan Hettenbach set a hearing in the case for Aug. 5. Archdiocese officials said they hoped the matter could be resolved before then. Bozek said he would be willing to sit down with the archdiocese's leaders to discuss a compromise.

Zabielski, who spoke at a press conference at the archdiocese on Wednesday, said he supported the proposal, as described in the lawsuit. Bernard Huger, attorney for the archdiocese, said the heightening controversy kept the archdiocese from filing the lawsuit in the past.

"The archbishop didn't want to make this worse," Huger said.

Now that the former board members are seeking reconciliation, the time is right to file the lawsuit, he added. If both parties agree to return the previous management structure — brokered in 1891 — it will bring the parishioners back into communion with the Roman Catholic church. But such a compromise also would mean Bozek will be removed as pastor. The Vatican is currently considering a request from Burke that Bozek be laicized, or returned to the status of a layperson.


I usually don't post two stories in one day, but this one is too good to pass on. What we have here is three board members who have begun to realize they opened up a real Pandora's box when they took on Archbishop Burke and brought in Fr. Bozek. I don't suppose for one minute they ever envisioned Fr. Bozek bringing in 4 or 500 more families to their spectacular Polish enclave. 4 or 500 families who have no connection to their Polish history but a great deal of connection to the Faith and theology of Fr. Bozek, and these families would then be elected to a new board who would then have control over all the assets.

What to do, what to do? Apparently the answer is to slink back to the Archdiocese, ask for forgiveness and join forces to get their Church assets back from these Bozek upstarts. Hence we have all the injunctions and the request to return to the bylaws as they existed in 2001. Obviously the Archdiocese would have the resources to push this through the legal system. But why would the Archdiocese be willing to support the ex board members in putting egg on their own faces. I suspect it's better to lose to the previously upstart poles, (who have now seen the obedience light) than to lose everything to the upstart Bozek and his vision of Church.

Apparently the St. Stanislas saga has gone beyond that of a outrageous grab for assets and money, and has now become a symbolic battle over the future vision of the parish itself and the kind Church which will celebrate with in it's walls. And it is a gorgeous church, one worth fighting over, but then so might the human version of the Church it celebrates within it's walls. It will be very interesting to see what the response from the greater parish will be, and if Fr. Bozek really will walk off into the sunset.


  1. The catholic church asking a civilian court to uphold the church authority over a congregation, in effect, asking the court to issue an injunction that will make the congregation subservient to the archdiocese.

    Lets see, board controls the assets, diocese appoints the board, ... doesnt take a PhD to figure that one out.

    As you say Colleen, there is more at stake here than precendents and assets. I suspect there will be a lot of faces covered in omelets before this is all over.

  2. This does not look good for Fr. Bozek and his parishioners and seems advantageous for the un-excommunicated to get rid of any progressive influence. This is amazing to me that this issue is being brought to a secular court to decide essentially the future of the parish. This is a real gamble and could go either way, or to a compromise, depending on the Judge who hears the case and how much the parishioners get involved to sway opinions. I wonder how much drama will be played out and how long the case will last. It certainly gets very interesting the more time goes on. I hope Fr. Doyle will be present in this case to represent the parishioners in alliance with Fr. Bozek. Or, I guess they will they have an attorney to represent them? This is truly an amazing event that is being played out. My feeling is that there will be a lot of drama from both sides being developed and deployed in this case of the divided Catholic Church.

  3. Colleen - before I forget - please see my comment in Communication to the Holy Ones.

  4. I think this whole story is bizarre. Why pursuit the secular legal definition at this point and not earlier in this whole story? Is this a tacit admission that once the Parish was placed under interdict Canon Law had no answers and no authority because St. Stanislas was no longer Catholic?
    If my speculation is true then it means the self styled great Canon Lawyer shot himself in the foot when he placed the parish under interdict.

    This may finalize disposition of assets, but it does nothing to clear up any of the rest of the mess. Nothing like mixing left brain logic with right brained spirituality.

    Butterfly, I finally saw your comment and repsonded to it.

  5. Butterfly, re: your comment to colleen:

    I sometimes find the "otherside" experiences in my own life to be challenging. I rarely see with my eyes as you did, thankfully I dont hear the voices, but I frequently feel and know.

    For example, after I read Colleens post this morning on St Stanislas I went downstairs for a smoke and had a flash of inspiration, insight and a general feeling of how awesome this is going to be when the final curtain comes down.

    By the time I got back upstairs to the computer to write, the best I could do was the pathetic 3 paragraph burp above, which is not even a shadow of what I saw.

    The snippets I remember are Fr Bozek will be fine, the 3 board members will regret the deal they made with the diocese, it will precipitate a tremendous shift in the catholic consciousness away from orthodoxy, the entirety of the situation will become an embarrassment to the diocese (more than it already is) and it will become a pivotal event in the reorganization (schism) of the catholic church that is coming.

    That doesnt sound like it would be so hard to remember, but until I sat down to write this post it simply wasnt there.

    Now I've lost it again. {sigh}

    As I understand it, all of this is a normal part of our awakening process. It is like learning to walk or ride a bicycle, but without the physical reference points. The more we can relax into it and not allow it to upset us, the easier the awakening will be. The less we try, the easier it will be as well.

    Thankfully we are not alone anymore.

  6. Carl -"The more we can relax into it and not allow it to upset us, the easier the awakening will be. The less we try, the easier it will be as well.

    Thankfully we are not alone anymore."

    I am trying to remember where in the Bible Jesus says that we "neither have to toil or spin." I am reminded of this by what you said in quotes above. I call it Letting Go and Letting God.

    Regarding what you said here: "and it will become a pivotal event in the reorganization (schism) of the catholic church that is coming."

    Are the traditionalist going to schism? I'm not quite sure what you are saying here.

  7. Carl,
    I can't say this comes from an otherside intuition, but I think God has great plans for His flock at St. Stan's and Fr. Bozek.

    On Christmas Eve of 2005, I felt very strongly that the Holy Spirit had visited St. Stan's, when 2,000 people showed up for Mass -- four times the seating capacity -- spilling out into the parking lot.

    From the St. Louis News Leader 12/25/05 :

    "Each of us is called to be a shepherd," Bozek said in his homily. "The Church is not about the priests, the bishops or the popes. It's about you."

    "I'm not coming here to be a powerful, strong warrior or hero. All I will do is imitate Jesus. I'm coming here to live amidst you, to eat what you eat. I'm coming here to serve you day and night, to be with you in your life, and to be one of you," Bozek said as those in attendance rose to their feed and applauded.

    "It's one of the first Masses that I ever paid attention to," said Nicholas Kaminski, a 12-year-old from St. Charles. He said he was not worried to take communion from Bozek which Archbishop Burke had declared ‘mortal sin’. "It's the archbishop who is doing wrong," Nicholas said, "not me."

    Colleen, I suspect you're right that the Archdiocese is now willing to endure a return to the pre-2001 arrangement in order to avoid the far greater danger of Catholics successfully managing their own parish without interference from the Roman hierarchy. This might incite the peasant-laity to further revolt !

    It's always darkest before the light breaks. Pray that the Holy Spirit's will be done at St. Stan's.

    -- John K

  8. Butterfly:

    It is Matt 6:28-29 "And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these."

    What I perceive is that the catholic church is preparing to birth another schism. When I step back and look at the events of the last 20+ years, the end result is obvious - two churches. One progressive and inclusive, one traditional and exclusive. When I turn and look the other way, I see misty swirls, vague images merging, converging and diverging. St Stanislas is in both visions.

    I just read the article on NCR on Humanae Vitae and the posts. What amazed me was the level of hate and lack of love within most of the posts.

    The schism is and will continue to be between those who choose not-love and those who choose love. How will it unfold and what it will look like? Exactly what we are seeing around us right now.

  9. Hey guys, I agree with virtually everything you have written. I have followed the St. Stan's story very closely because it just may be the first stepping stone to an avalanche of built up frustration spilling out in the form of choice. I intended to write schism but the keys wouldn't work.

    The choice is between one view of Catholicism which includes everyone, and that doesn't mean everything, but it does mean everyone who seeks community in Christ.

    The second choice is of course following the Papacy and the hierarchy. One of the things I was given tonight was a reminder about how the talents of people are spread out amongst a human continuum. It maybe that Catholicism to day needs to be two different churches. There are significant number of people who seem to be far more comfortable with following rules as their path, and that should be respected.
    But there are far more of us who see that the rule following is something we integrate after we have experienced the real benefits of relationship with Jesus rather than a rulership with Jesus.

    I guess that means that I really hope St. Stan's becomes the first parish in a huge number of parishes which opt for relationship rather than rulership.

    By the way, I still can't quite figure out how three ex board memmbers and an archdiocese which wrote this parish off, thinks they have any ability to legally represent the future of this parish? Could some secular lawyer out there explain this to me? Who are these people representing--themselves?

  10. John: Thank you for the affirmation. I am certain the Holy Spirit is and will continue to shine though St. Stanislaus.

    Butterfly, one other thought:

    Part of the gospel at morning mas today was the following:

    "knowledge of the mysteries of the Kingdom of heaven has been granted to you, but to them it has not been granted. To anyone who has, more will be given and he will grow rich; from anyone who has not, even what he has will be taken away."

    If we substitute LiP for "you" and FO for "them" we observe a striking parallel to what is unfolding before us.

  11. Colleen, given the recent events in St Louis, my sense is that the 3 board members in question probably received a very healthy bribe from the diocese. Who knows, maybe AB Burke's transfer was part of the bribe. It certainly would explain the sudden nature of the transfer.

  12. You have a good point Carl. I too thought it was interesting that this legal action was announced after Burke was transferred and WYD was finished. I also found the June 'reconcilliation' most fascinating.

    By the way, I just got back from reading the posts on the NCR regarding Humanae Vitae. Quite frankly I will be really shocked if what I wrote isn't edited severly. I happened to mention that according to Randi Engel's book Rite of Sodomy, Paul VI took an inordinate overnight interest in a male actor friend of his. I also mentioned since that relationship didn't need procreative interfering birth control that Paul VI probably didn't sin too much. I wrote more than that, but I do have to admit the general nature of the comments led me to believe that they were a form of spam from the Def.

    Poor NCR, it does appear that the DEF have come out in full force. I also think the DEF have lost the St. Stanislas battle and it will be a world wide phenomenon. I can't wait Carl, it's getting hard to take some of this theology of sexuality.

    I keep thinking of all the Catholic clients I've had whose home lives were a living hell because their mother's didn't think they had permission to divorce without sending themselves to eternal hell. Sometimes I just want to scream. Sorry about the ranting. It must just be the times. WYD really through me for a loop. No Resurrection, just Crucifixion.

    God help us Catholics and deliver us from our hierarchy.

  13. Hello all. I just went to ncr to look up the article on Humane Vitae in the editorial and read through all of the comments from the DEFs. Good Lord, I have never seen so many mean and ugly emails all at once, and not one positive comment to NCR. NCR was literally ripped apart, word for word.

    I posted a comment in ncrcafe regarding a similar article which was in the Daily News Feed Column entitled - Forty years later, birth control decree remains controversial. I can't even find it now posted by ncrcafe. I responded to a comment by a Def trad catdogcan. It is still not posted. What is up with the postings on the cafe? Are they shutting this portion down or what?

    I also posted to Joan Chittister's column - Why them and not us? to Kate Lears, the sister of Sr. Louise Lears and it still has not posted. I also posted something on the 23rd and it is still not posted.

    Just thought I'd report this to you all and was wondering if you had a similar situation.

  14. Carl, it looks to me like they just haven't updated anything since last Friday. Given the volume of hatemail they are recieving on the main website, I'm not really surprised.

    I'm beginning to wonder if all the hate mail isn't an organized campaign similar to the ones that the Catholic League encourages their members to engage in.

  15. Very likely that it is something like that. The main thing for us to remember is not to get caught up in the hatred, but to take a lesson from akido ... just step out of the way and chuckle when they smash into the brick wall behind you.

    Just for fun, I've been reading the catechism book. Did you know that opposition to the death penalty is in direct opposition to one of the catechisms? I cant wait for the cafe to open back up so I can strategicallly drop that little jewel ... and others {wicked mischievous grin}

  16. Carl, I love your bravery and wisdom in all of this - to stand up to the BRATS. They are all young people, from what I can gather who have been posting from the Def quarters of the Church who don't know any better because they are still babies spiritually. In every comment I am going to try to interject REALITY into to their crazy beliefs which didn't belong in the 15th century and don't belong now.

    BRATS stands for - Beloved raucous angels that stink!

    Here is another to add to the list on acronyms...

    PITA - Pain In The Ass.

  17. BRATS. Love it. Those of us who are parents are perfectly aware of what delights our young adult children can be when they've found the TRUTH.

    I couldn't wait for my daughter to lose it, so she could get on with finding something internal and integrated. In her case the TRUTH was almost a form of nihilism rejecting everything. Hope was a delusion blah blah blah. Then came LOVE and out went that TRUTH. Amazing what a good dose of love will do.

    I keep thinking a good dose of LOVE will work wonders for our suddenly found the TRUTH youth. Unfortunately they won't find LOVE in the current direction their Church is taking. They will find OBEDIENCE---and that is the whole sinister point.

  18. Butterfly, I dont consider it bravery or wisdom. I'm one of those individuals who has an inbred (yes, i was born in arkansas) revulsion to anything that limits my freedom of choice. As a tool to that end, I have mastered and honed the passive-aggressive application of "malicious obedience" to a fine art. As you may have observed, I derive significant satisfaction when I have the opportunity to use it, and the magisterium gives me soooo many wonderful opportunities. The last time I went to confession for my "sins" I heard the priest trying, unsuccessfully, to surpress laughter. Good thing JPII debunked "hell" or I would most certainly be "DOOOOOOOMED".

  19. Butterfly PS - I've added PITA BRATS to the list.

  20. Carl,

    RE: "Good thing JPII debunked "hell" or I would most certainly be DOOOOOOOMED".

    But cha are, Blanche, but cha are !

    Recall that B-16 reinstated hell in March, 2007 (wasn’t B-16 also a bomber?)

    Hell "really exists and is eternal, even if nobody talks about it much any more", said the Pope, who as cardinal Joseph Ratzinger was head of Catholic doctrine.

    Vatican officials said the Pope - who is also the Bishop of Rome - had been speaking in "straightforward" language "like a parish priest".

    He doesn't sound like any parish priest I know, but I suppose under his regime, the seminaries will be turning out more such fire-and-brimstone preachers.

    Actually, I can believe there is a hell, a psychic/ spiritual state which some people choose by deliberately separating themselves from Light and identifying with evil. God does not send anyone into that darkness; some people choose it. Perhaps you or Colleen could comment about the psych-spiritual nature of “hell” sometime.

    At any rate, this regime is abusing the concept of hell by declaring the slightest disagreement/disobedience to its policies to be “mortal sin”, a one-way ticket to hell. They’re using fear to control people and to suppress primacy of conscience.

    Remember it was Aquinas who said, ”Better to be excommunicated than to violate one’s conscience.” And while Christ apparently referred to hell a few times, he emphasized love, not fear, to motivate us.

    -- John K

  21. John, I will take the time to comment on the psychic/spiritual concept of hell. It's important for a number of reasons.

    There is a 'place' which Shamans describe who have been there, and that would also include me, as a state of void, or a null state. It's like nothing I've ever imagined and is difficult to 'language'. There is just nothing. Call it the anti life place. There is no sense of life at all, not anger, not emotion, but most importantly no recognition of other beings around one. It's an incredible state of isolation.

    It's interesting that this description of 'void' or nothingness is universal amongst all Shamanic traditions. Well, except for some Christian mystics. Mystical experiences are not necessarily shamanistic, but that's another issue.

    It appeared to me that it would be virtually impossible to get out of this place because the choice one makes that lands one there is truly despair or a psycho patholigical nihilism and there is nothing there to reflect anything different back--especially because of the self isolation. It's like an endless loop of circular logic turned in on the self.

    There are Light beings, angels I guess, who make attempts to get the attention of the spirits in this place, but they aren't really successful. I've always wondered, since my one experience with this 'place', how bright must have been the Light of Christ when he descended in to Hell. How many saw that Light and followed Him out. I imagine it was a lot. I imagine Him descending there in a perfect state of self less love. That might be the only antidote to the self imposed total isolation.

    I hate atonement theology because it's a very good way for people to think and emotionally support their way into this state of unforgiveable void. The one thing I really came away with an understanding about, is that it is self chosen and not precisely by sin, but by the belief one is unforgiveable, or from a deep sense of self worthlessness.

    Graham Greene was one Catholic writer who really got this idea. All JPII youth should be required to read "The Heart of the Matter."

  22. Thank you, Colleen. I've been led to understand hell along the same lines, including the idea that it's not necessarily discrete acts of sin/ wrongdoing that land one there, but one's fundamental attitudes and self-identities (ie: we end up going where we choose to go).

    Sr. Faustina describes the last judgment as an encounter between the unconditionally loving Christ, and the self-despairing soul. The despairing soul sees only his own guilt and shame and is convinced he cannot escape his fate (hopelessness). In this post-death encounter, Christ offers forgiveness one more time, and if the soul shows even the slightest inclination to accept this Love/ forgiveness/ hope, that soul will be saved from hell. Perhaps Christ continues to descend into hell in this manner, one soul at a time ?

    -- John K

  23. I sure hope so John. Hell is a very empty space.