Saturday, January 07, 2006

St. Stan's is sent packing

Two articles, both of which start by announcing the suppression of St. Stanislaus's by the Archdiocese of St. Louis. The first article from the Post-Dispatch discusses the implications of this:

There are a few practical implications of the order for the church, such as obtaining their own insurance and tax exempt status. St. Stanislaus will also lose its listing in the archdioceses' official directory.

But the larger issue is whether this decree clears the way for a lawsuit against the board members. The original articles of agreement state the purpose of the corporation is to unite a church congregation of Polish Roman Catholics to maintain a Polish Roman Catholic Church.

Bernard Huger, a lawyer for the archdiocese, points out that the church is no longer an Roman Catholic parish. While the Archdiocese has not acted upon that inconsistency, someone else may, he said.

Zabielski said the board expects the punishment against the church to escalate and will probably lead to a lawsuit against them.

"They're doing everything they can to get the property," he said.

Burke wrote in his letter that he issued the decree "with great sadness given the parish's long history" and prays daily for reconciliation.

Read the complete article St. Stanislaus out of Catholic church from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The second article from the Springfield News-Leader discusses the canonical ins and outs of such a suppression and the appeals process:

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.

Read the entire article St. Stanislaus removed from church from the Springfield News-Leader. The second article also includes some choice quotes from Father Bozek, the excommunicated priest who was hired by St. Stan's. Standing out among others are these two:

"I believe this is a move motivated by panic and fear," said Bozek [referring to Archbishop Burke].


"We are patiently waiting for a response from the Vatican," he said [good luck with that...].

The official decree of suppression can be read here at the archdiocese's site. Note that it is a PDF file.

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