Skip to comments.An Appeal from a Group of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parishioners
Posted on 02/26/2005 7:55:08 PM PST by lrslattery
AN APPEAL THAT WILL NEVER MAKE THE NEWS
FROM A GROUP OF ST. STANISLAUS KOSTKA PARISHIONERS
February 21, 2005
Dear Friends in the Archdiocese of St. Louis:
Since March 2004 Catholics in the St. Louis area have been affected by a dispute between the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and the lay board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish which illegally took away control of the parish corporation from the Roman Catholic Church. The conflict escalated after the board refused to bring the parish civil structure into conformity with Church law that clearly states that the pastor appointed by the Archbishop, not a group of laymen who assign the pastor the role of an employee, has ultimate authority regarding parish life. As a result of the boards defiance, manifested by offensive behavior of board members towards our priests, in August 2004 Archbishop Burke transferred the parish center to St. John, Apostle and Evangelist Church in downtown St. Louis. Parishioners who support Archbishop Burke continue to celebrate the Mass in Polish there and the parish continues to thrive.
Many Catholics in the St. Louis Archdiocese have initially expressed support for the board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Parish. This was a result of an intensive media campaign conducted by the board of directors and their supporters. The main objective of the board seems to be to discredit Archbishop Burke, damage his reputation, and portray the parish community as a victim of his demands. Secular media not only disregarded the existence of parishioners supporting Archbishop Burke, but also distorted the truth about the background of the conflict. One such distortion relates to the fact that St. Stanislaus Kostka parishioners supporting Archbishop Burke refused to participate in January 9th voting which was orchestrated as another publicity exploit by the board of directors and its media advisers. Although the board and their spokesmen loudly attempt to portray themselves as representatives of St. Stanislaus parish community, in reality they represent only a group of supporters who choose to affirm them. This critical distinction was never made by the media.
Support for the Save St. Stans campaign mounted by the board of directors is provided from many sources interested in destroying the unity of the Roman Catholic Church. The campaign slogan became even a City of St. Louis mayoral race issue, when one of the candidates publicly expressed support for the board of directors, while acknowledging no affiliation with the Catholic Church. The public scandal caused by the board, which has been instrumental in swaying the opinions of many of its supporters, and of the general public, has created much pain in the Archdiocese of St. Louis and in the community at large.
Unfortunately, the campaign proved to be very persuasive in deflecting the attention of many parishioners, as well as the public, from fundamental principles of operating a faith-based community. These include the structure and authority of the Church, respect for law, and accountability to parishioners and the public at large. Over the last several years members of the board fostered a culture of blatant disrespect for the Church as well as for many members of the parish community. There is ongoing speculation about the reasons the board of directors changed corporate by-laws and assumed control over the parish finances. It is apparent that this situation exempted the board from the strict accountability required of all other parishes of the Roman Catholic Church. Contrary to public declarations, the board refused to conduct an independent financial audit by a certified public accountant, and to disclose details of parish operations, including procedures for awarding contracts and service agreements. The change of corporate bylaws was done with premeditation through amendments in 2001 and 2004. This itself is a clear violation of the original 1891 corporate bylaws, which explicitly state that corporation bylaws must be in conformance with diocesan rules, regulations and requirements.
A few months ago, members of our congregation published an Open Letter to Parishioners and Supporters of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish. The letter outlined details of the parish conflict, and expressed support for Archbishop Burke in his efforts to bring the parish structure into conformity with the governance model that is followed by all parishes in St. Louis diocese. These efforts were subsequently affirmed, and mandated, by the Vatican in its decree of November 11, 2004, rejecting the appeal against the Archbishop made on behalf of the board of directors. The full text of the open letter, as well as other documents related to this conflict, is available at the website of the Archdiocese of St. Louis: http://www.archstl.org/parishes/documents/st_stanislaus.html. Please contact us if you would like to receive a copy of our letter.
We are deeply concerned that the actions taken by the board of directors are clearly intended to weaken the authority of the Holy See and of Archbishop Burke. We reject the boards rhetoric comparing their role to that of Solidarity in the fight for the freedom of Poland. This comparison is simply insulting to many of us who are parishioners, and who personally participated in the fight for the freedom of Poland, and drew our strength and inspiration from the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.
Resolution of this conflict will have a profound impact not only on the future of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish but on the entire Catholic community in the United States. We reject the notion of separating St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish from the Roman Catholic Church. We call on the board of directors of the parish civil corporation to stop the campaign of hostility and animosity towards the Catholic Church, and its leaders in Rome and in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, a campaign that knowingly, deliberately, and publicly has damaged seriously the unity of the Roman Catholic community.
None of us Roman Catholics in St. Louis Archdiocese should remain disinterested in this matter. This conflict is a test of our judgment as Catholics, a test of our ability to clearly comprehend the complexity of the situation, and of our courage to make a conscientious choice.
We appeal to all Catholics the in St. Louis Archdiocese to express strong support for Archbishop Burke in his efforts to resolve this matter. On the second Sunday of each month we invite you all to attend our monthly bi-lingual Mass of Solidarity with Archbishop Burke during which we will pray for the strength of our spiritual leaders, unity of the Catholic Church, and the future of our congregation. The first Mass of Solidarity will be celebrated on March 13th, 2005 at 9:00 a.m. at St. John, Apostle and Evangelist Church in Plaza Square in downtown St. Louis. We kindly ask for your support.
God Bless, ST. STANISLAUS KOSTKA PARISH ADVISORY COMMITTEE
The Appeal Letter (PDF File)
What is most interesting is that it is the BOARD OF DIRECTORS that immorally, and possibly illegally siezed control of the parish away from the archdiocese.
I wonder why they don't want an independent audit of the books???
As far as the parishoners go, it doesn't even matter if Archbishop Burke was right. That's not even the real issue here. The real issue is the rogue members are denying their parish access to the Sacraments, and probably will break away from the Catholic Church for good.
I have no idea if Burke is right or not, but he is the Bishop and should be listened to (unless he is clearly breaking canon law.) I really doubt this is the case because the Bishops usually have a lot of fiscal power in their dioceses. I know they can shut down churches, so it seems likely that what he's doing regarding St. Stan's is legal.
I wonder why you got that idea to wonder about. What apparently we don't need to wonder about from a green eye shade standpoint even as one might wonder from a fiduciary perspective is that the assigned priest from the archdiocese looted the treasury and left 96 bucks in the account.
"I wonder why you got that idea to wonder about."
Because it is part of the letter posted above:
"It is apparent that this situation exempted the board from the strict accountability required of all other parishes of the Roman Catholic Church. Contrary to public declarations, the board refused to conduct an independent financial audit by a certified public accountant,..."
Yep. I missed that. What interests me is if the church can manage to get an RC priest to serve under the nose of Burke, without him being able to do anything about it. Burke's biggest mistake was doing the interdict thing over a property dispute. That made him look ludicrous, and he won't ever live it down.
A Catholic priest who would publicly provide sacraments against the wishes of the ordinary of the see would be subject to greater penalties than interdict. Archbishop Burke would have options available to him.
If the priest doesn't mind being separated from communion with the Catholic Church, I suppose it's no big deal, but at that point, it becomes difficult to keep up the pretense that the organization involved is any longer a Catholic parish.
Archbishop Burke didn't interdict the board members over a property dispute. Archbishop Burke did what he did because the lay board wants to have final control over the PARISH, and a Catholic PARISH cannot be controlled by laypeople. That's all.
You cite the problem with the previous pastor who may have poorly administered parish funds. I've seen the "Save St. Stan's" site, and read the board's version. Seeing how they have distorted other facts, I'm not sure I'm willing to take their version at face value.
However, even if I were to fully credit their version, I've heard of Catholic parishes with poor pastors. I once belonged to a parish that had $50,000 in the bank when the pastor came in, and was in hock when he left. What happened? Well, the paid staff went from three to ten during a time of declining registration (numbers of families belonging to the parish). He spent money liberally on re-doing the church. Then the roof on the school needed to be replaced, so-on and so-forth.
I've seen more than one pastor do a poor job of administering parish assets.
What I've NEVER seen is the laity of a parish seizing total control of parish assets in response!
The "Save St. Stan's" site complains, in part:
"When he arrived there was over $60,000 in addition to weekly donations, etc. This account was under his sole control. [bold in original]"
Well, whoop-de-do! That's how Catholic parishes are run. Laity may have, at most, the power to prevent the pastor from spending really large amounts without their knowledge (not consent). If the laity don't like how money is being spent, they can go to the ordinary of the diocese. The bishop is the pastor's boss. The bishop can prevent the pastor from making large expenditures.
But the laity cannot. Not on their own. The folks at St. Stan's don't like it? Well, too bad. That's how the Catholic Church runs. That's Canon Law. If they don't want to have their parish run according to the law of the Church, they can go join another religion.
Although the violations are in the context of money and property control, Torie, the real problem for the archbishop, and lots of Catholics, is that these folks don't want a parish that is run according to the rules governing how Catholic parishes are run.
They can retain lay control over what was once a Catholic parish (it no longer is), or they can continue to be Catholic.
They can't do both.
I'm certain he would have liked to have resolved this in some other manner, however, based upon the acts and public speech of the board, he was left with few, if any, other options. For some of the reasons why, see this.
The Board did not exert control over who was priest, and how the priest conducted services in the church. They controlled the assets of the corporation only. In short, they were the landlord offering up the place rent free with utilities paid. Can Burke bounce a priest who is not hired by his archdiocese? Can he bounce a priest not on his payroll for conducting mass in a place he does not approve? That is what I wonder about. I guess in time I will find out.
Ya the guy had the authority. He has still tarnished himself I suspect - forever.
"In short, they were the landlord offering up the place rent free with utilities paid."
Well, if they saw it that way, then they'd kind of ceased being a Catholic parish some time ago. That isn't how it works.
"Can Burke bounce a priest who is not hired by his archdiocese?"
It isn't likely that a priest in good standing with the Catholic Church will agree to come say Mass or otherwise provide sacraments, as the moment he does, he becomes liable to cease being a priest in good standing with the Catholic Church. At least as far as the folks who actually run the Catholic Church are concerned.
Specifically, Archbishop Burke could order any Catholic priest to refrain from providing the sacraments to this organization. As well, offering the sacraments knowingly to persons under interdict would itself be a serious violation of Canon Law.
Ultimately, failure to abide by the instructions of the ordinary could lead to the priest's excommunication and laicization.
However, the folks at St. Stan's have already tipped their hat. They will go outside the Church to get their priest. They've as much said so on their website.
No they want to find RC priests not under the thumb of Burke. You are saying that Burke has jurisdiction over any priest delivering the mass within his territory no matter who they are, affiliated with, or from where. If so, and he exercises that authority, and stops it, then yes, the church will cease to conduct RC services. If you are right, I wonder if the Board is aware of the exclusive territorial rule.
No, they recognize that they will be cast out into the outer darkness. This is from their site:
* * * *
What are the options St. Stanislaus has to resolve this conflict?
Hold out for a change of heart by the Archbishop.
- Remote chance
Allow the church to become a non functioning shrine
- After a while the majority will loose interest and the church will go into a state of disrepair. The life of the parish will be extinguished.
Give it away
- Allow the parish to be deeded to another Polish organization, not related to the archdiocese and possibly not related to the Roman Catholic Church.
Join another (non Roman) Catholic Church
- Viable option
- Religious celebrations are nearly identical to what we see in the Roman Catholic Church today
- These religious organizations broke away from the Roman Catholic Church due to the same demands we are seeing today. Religion was not the issue. It was, as it is today, about power and control
* * * *
As you can see, they see as the viable option leaving the "Roman Catholic Church," i.e., the Church over which the pope is head. Looks to me like they're leaning toward the Polish National Catholic Church.
They are well aware that a Catholic priest in communion with the Catholic Church governed by the pope cannot function in a diocese having lost the consent of the ordinary.
February 21, 2005
To all Parishioners and Friends:
The attempt to live in harmony with the Archdiocese in a similar role prior to their attempted takeover is finished. We must move on.
From all legal counsel, clergy, and lay people with expertise in Canon Law and prior dealings with the Archbishop we will be unable to reach a mutual resolution to the current situation; regardless of what is offered. The ArchbishopÕs sole interpretation of Canon Law and his continued demonstrated behavior in the matter continues to prevent this.
To deprive a parish and individuals of all religious guidance and celebrations over a property dispute is not in religious doctrine. Yet it is acceptable and enthusiastically embraced through clergy made law, called Canon Law.
The BOD, with advice from many has agreed that it is time to grasp the obvious that there is no hope for a timely mutual resolution. Our religious needs, time, support and funds will diminish our position, wear us down and continue to break and wreck havoc in our community. We, your representatives cannot allow that. After 2+ years of this struggle the insults to our Parish coupled with the disgrace, in depriving us of all religious guidance and celebrations are at an end.
That being said, the BOD has unanimously voted that during this most holy Easter season, to seek interim religious guidance and celebrations from an order of priests or an individual priest outside the authority of the Archbishop of St. Louis. We will do our best to obtain a Roman Catholic Priest with Polish Heritage and who speaks the Polish language. Please bear with us, as this will be difficult, but it may be our ultimate future.
We realize this is a major decision and may come as a shock to some but as the leaders in this conflict we believe it is for the good for the intermediate life of the parish.
We again want to emphasize it is only a temporary move. We will keep the door open to the Archdiocese for dialogue, but only as you direct.
If in the near future, a permanent move outside the Archdiocese is decided in the best interests of the parish, a parishioner vote will be required.
We solicit you religious understanding and continued support in this undertaking. God bless us in these momentous times. We must regain religious leadership and guidance and live with dignity. Mass schedules will be sent to you in the near future, but until then our religious service will continue to be at 9:30 AM in Polish and English.
Mr. Bill Bialczak
Chairman Board of Directors
I'm assuming you were sent this propaganda from one of the 5 who voted to give Burke another 9 million dollars in assets to devour?
Well, not forever.
His authority, notwithstanding, it was his OBLIGATION under Canon Law to do what he did. Failing to do what one is obliged to do because of human respect is, plainly put, sinful. I would think he wasn't sitting at his desk deciding this action based upon how he would fare in a popularity contest.
It has been said that one of the greatest curses today is human respect the vice that makes one compromise to gain other peoples approval. One's opinion about whether Archbishop Burke "tarnished" himself in the eyes of others by performing his duty as the lawful shepherd of the Church, in the end when he is judged, may be a good thing - particularly if one recalls the 8th Beautitude.
Actually, it was 299 to 5. The other 150-200 parishioners "exiled" were not allowed to vote unless they attended meeting. Having been ostracized, they submitted their votes via mail...they were rejected and not counted.
I'm assuming that you were not aware of all of the facts.
These people were operating in the green and not bothering anyone for over a century, then along comes scandals and apostasy (as in all other US diocese) causing massive bleeding of funds. Then all of a sudden the 9 million dollars worth of Polish parish assets starts looking good.
While these folks operate at a profit, Raymond Burke is shutting his parishes down because the American church has forgotten how to bring and keep faithful Catholics.
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