Skip to comments.Parish in Mo. to Keep Control of Assets [laity vote at St Stanislaus Kostka Church in St Louis]
Posted on 01/09/2005 8:03:14 PM PST by Mike Fieschko
ST. LOUIS - A Polish parish voted overwhelmingly Sunday to retain control of its $9.5 million in assets, a move certain to deepen a long-running feud with the Archdiocese of St. Louis that could lead to a lawsuit or possible schism.
Parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church, which was established by Polish immigrants and is self-governed by a lay board, voted 299-5 not to surrender control of its assets to the archdiocese.
The vote comes after St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said the parish's structure violates church law and must conform by Feb. 4.
Last August, Burke removed the parish's two priests and forbade baptisms, burials, celebration of the Mass and other sacraments there, saying the board's management of parish finances usurped the pastor's authority.
Earlier this month, Burke warned the lay board they faced a serious church censure known as an interdict, which can prohibit them from receiving the sacraments.
The parish's traditional members have said they want to remain Roman Catholic and hope Burke will reconsider his actions or meet with them. If a compromise can't be reached, the parish could opt to close, seek the ministry of a priest from another diocese or break from the Roman Catholic Church altogether.
After the vote was tallied Sunday, parishioners applauded wildly and broke into a celebratory Polish song.
"You, the people, have spoken," board chairman Bill Bialczak told parishioners. "There may be a court battle before long, but we're ready for it."
Jamie Allman, a spokesman for Burke, said the archbishop would "first pray, then make a decision" on how to proceed with the parish's "daily denigration of our faith."
Allman said he could not rule out a lawsuit or church censure, adding that Burke doesn't want St. Stanislaus' assets and property, only for the parish structure to conform with church law.
St. Stanislaus, founded 125 years ago, is the religious, cultural and historical home of Polish Americans in St. Louis. The tradition of self-governance in matters of property and assets dates back to the European immigrants who brought the church to America in the 19th century. But that model has faded over the years as the nation's bishops have asserted control.
St. Stanislaus' struggle comes as the St. Louis Archdiocese is considering closing 28 Catholic parishes to accommodate the priest shortage and the city's demographic changes. Burke's decision is due this month.
Efforts to conform St. Stanislaus' structure began in 2002, but escalated after Burke arrived last January.
The board offered to place the parish's assets in an irrevocable trust, then withdrew the offer when Burke insisted on being the only voting member of a newly created corporation overseeing it. Burke wants the lay board disbanded.
St. Stanislaus has appealed its case to the Vatican (news - web sites), which in November sided with Burke.
"The Poles survived the Tartars, the Turks and the Nazis," Krasnicki said. "We'll survive this too."
Burke better hire a PR firm. He's blown this, so far.
The laity is in no mood to be pushed around by bishops. I hope the bishops everywhere are watching--because the days of powerlessness and deference on the part of lay people are over. There is nothing in the Catholic faith that dictates bishops must control everything, even the worldly goods of a parish. It is time to REALLY enfranchise Catholic lay persons and get rid of a Medieval model. Funny how the bishops don't mind changing everything else. But they are perfect sticklers for "tradition" when it comes to handling the money.
"Funny how the bishops don't mind changing everything else. But they are perfect sticklers for "tradition" when it comes to handling the money."
Yeppers, now why doesn't that surprise me. Since they have mis-handled it so often.
Here ya go, thor. You ought to be jumping up and down over this.
It all depends on what the title/deed to the property actually says. Missouri law is very clear - when church property is in dispute, it's the details of the deed which determine ownership. The state of MO is NOT interested in ajudicating for any particular church.
" Isn't there a similar situation occuring in Pa., at Padre Pio Centre???? What gives?
Burke is going to have to sue to get this property.
As for this issue... Canon Law is clear, and the parish's governance structure is a violation. They appealed to Rome and lost. The Archbishop has offered to set up a trust for the parish (which would be enforceable by the state of Missouri)--as he said himself, what more do they want? Should the Archbishop just ignore Canon Law for this parish?
"There exists a certain institution or a law; let us call it, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gayly up to it and says: 'I don't see the use of this; let us clear it away.' To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: 'If you don't see the use of it, I certainly won't let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it.'" [G.K. Chesterton, in The Thing: Why I Am a Catholic]
Sorry. Of course, that should be 'nihil sub sole novum.'
I am pleased that the board voted as they did. In light of the fact that Burke wanted to be the only voting member of the new board, I cannot say that I blame the parishioners.
I hope that this gives hope to beleagured parishioners in other parts of the country to stand up to the bishops, if they have a just cause against them.
But, the saga is not over yet.
These Poles are strong, and patient people, who - with the help of Our Lady - have outlasted and outwaited all their enemies in their homeland - and elsewhere.
I will wait to see the page turn first, before I judge the ultimate outcome - which is in the future.
So, we shall wait, and see.......and pray for the people of St. Stanislaus Kostka.
Look, the laity needs LEVERAGE. Right now we are doormats, with our intelligence insulted at every turn. We are expected to react with docility to men who are part of a corrupt network of cronies, many of them gay, many of them corrupt, many of them even without real faith. Rome plays along and gives us mediocre-to-bad bishops because it refuses to reform the present system. What is necessary is a new relationship between clergy and laity. This relationship should not be to give us more to do in the sanctuary. That is not our provence. It should be to give us more to do with the worldly affairs that pertain to the Church--like tusteeships of parishes--which in turn will give us more clout with Rome. There is no reason on earth why the old Medieval model should have been retained well into the 21st century since the laity is nowadays so much better educated and capable. I don't expect us to return to the early Church model in which the people themselves will elect their own bishops--but we should certainly have more input in the selection process. Right now we are invisible and mute, merely suffering whatever fortune alots to us. For the most part this means we are given men who are not very spiritual. We could hardly do worse.
I have nothing against Burke, though even the most conservative Novus Ordo bishop is left of center and far from being traditional in a true Catholic sense. Rome offends in two ways--either it sends us these martinets like Bruskewitz and Burke, or it sends us false prophets like Mahoney and Pilla. It's a bad system, shot-through with cronyism and a go-along to get-along psychology. Besides, the gays have way too much power in the network.
I do admire the bishops of SSPX--precisely because they are humble in their relations with other people and respond to the laity with genuine respect. Read their newsletters, if you don't believe me. They are filled with real information, making the people their confidants. And they are truly spiritual men besides. But I have no doubt if they were not persecuted by the majority, if they had all the wealth in the world and all the prestige they could ever want, they would revert to the attitudes of most bishops--arrogance and pharisaical hypocrisy in the extreme.
Nothing under the sun is new, nemo.
"They [the laity] are, by [reason of] knowledge, competence or outstanding ability which they may enjoy, permitted and sometimes even obliged to express their opinion on those things which concern the good of the Church." (Vatican II, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, n. 37)
"While preserving intact the necessary link with ecclesiastical authority, the laity have the right to establish and direct [apostolic] associations, and to join existing ones . [B]y their expert assistance they increase the efficacy of the care of souls as well as of the administration of the goods of the Church." (Vatican II, Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, n. 19, 10)
It is the noble duty of pastors to recognize the services and charismatic gifts of the laity. Pastors were not meant by Christ to shoulder alone the entire saving mission of the Church toward the world. ("Lumen Gentium" #30)
Ah-haaa, you've been reading your Vatican II documents again haven't you? Yes sir! Well done. We'll have you at the Novus Ordo soon enough.
Just a word of caution, though. Be careful. I detect a certain radical "power to the people-overthrow the bishops" line of thought in your post. Similar to "Voice of the Faithful" and "Pax Christi". It would be a shame to see you move too far to the left.
Freepmail me if the SSPX bishops read this and excommunicate you.
I know of a nice guitar Mass where you'll fit in just great.
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