Since last March, a dispute has been heating up between the Archdiocese of St. Louis and St. Stanislaus Kostka Polish parish, which resides on the north side of the city.
The dispute erupted after parish board members refused to comply with Archbishop Raymond Burke’s directive to bring the parish civil structure into compliance with Church law.
Come Sunday, the parish itself will vote on weather or not to comply the Archbishop.
Under the current structure, St. Stanislaus’ pastor is subject to the authority of the parish governing board. Archbishop Burke has pointed out that this structure is in violation of Canon Law.
According to Archbishop Burke, “Church law does not permit a parish to be civilly incorporated in this manner. The form of civil corporation must respect the nature of the Church, in which Christ has placed the Holy Father, Successor of St. Peter, and the College of Bishops, Successors to the Apostles, as true shepherds of the Father’s flock.”
Opponents of the Archbishop claim that the restructuring of the parish is an attempt of Archbishop Burke to “gain control of St. Stanislaus’ assets.”
The conflict began under previous Archbishop Cardinal Rigali and was taken up by Burke shortly after his appointment in January of last year.
The Archbishop noted that before coming to the Archdiocese, “Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, then archdiocesan administrator, provided me with the complete documentation in the matter. I studied it carefully and agreed completely with Cardinal Rigali’s actions to rectify the situation.”
In response to allegations that the Archdiocese wanted to take control of St. Stanislaus’ assets because of what the website saveststans.com calls “financial difficulties”, the Archbishop said that, “Regarding parish funds, no bishop may confiscate the funds of any parish. Such action is directly forbidden by the Code of Canon Law. The ownership of goods acquired by a parish belongs to the parish and is governed by Church discipline (cf. Can. 1255-1257).”
In the tense months after the conflict began, the Archbishop removed the resident priests at the parish and relocated Polish language masses to nearby St. John, Apostle and Evangelist Catholic Church.
An appeal, hand delivered to the Vatican by a member of the board was rejected on Nov. 15th."
Archbishop Burke has given the parish until February 4th to come into compliance with Church law, but the decision of the parish could be known as early as Sunday.