Friday, February 18, 2005

The interdict of St. Stanislas Kostka

Some people outside of the Catholic community might have heard of a parish in St. Louis called St. Stanislas Kostka, and their struggle to maintain their parochial independence from the evil Archbishop Burke, who would take their parish assets and sell them off. This is the story their "Board of Directors," as well as the St. Louis media would have people believe.

As is usually the case, the media isn't telling the whole side of the story. St. Stan's was founded with a unique parochial structure in 1880, one that allowed the parish to have a board of directors independent of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, but whose bylaws provided for union and authority with the Archdiocese of St. Louis as a Roman Catholic parish operating under the jurisdiction of the Archdiocese, and therefore under Canon Law.

In 1917, the Holy See outlawed the notion that parishes could operate with any Board of Directors independent of the Archdiocese. Archbishop Burke's predecessor, Justin Cardinal Rigali, first approached the board of St. Stan's in an attempt to rectify the issue and bring the parish into alignment with Canon Law. Instead of willful obedience, the members of the 'board" changed the by-laws of the parish so as to take the Archdiocese out of the equation entirely. While the rest of the Catholic world must obey their Bishop, St. Stan's "board" apparently thinks themselves immune from ecclesiastical law. They have rightly incurred an interdict and are being denied the Eucharist, the sacrament of unity, because they are not in union with the whole Church.

In studying the relevant documents relating to the St. Stanislas case, I have learned that among other things:

1. The St. Stan's board of directors obtained a liquor license over the objections of both the pastor and parents of children undergoing religious education. The purpose was so that drinks could be sold on Sunday after the 10:00AM Mass when children of the parish were being given religious instruction. Both pastor and parents objected, but the board applied for and received a liquor license from the City of St. Louis and continue to operate a bar on church grounds after Mass over the objections of many parishioners.

(A note here: I like an ice-cold Budweiser as much as the next man, and as long as it is taken in moderation, there is no problem with that. Opening a bar on church grounds for use on a Sunday, however, shows immense disrespect for the Church, for the Lord, and for the Blessed Sacrament. Just because those involved have Polish heritage doesn't mean it entitles them to disrespect Our Lord in this way.)

2. Archbishop Burke has removed priests from the parish because the "board of directors" has made life intolerable for priests there, and for the ecclesiastical order of the Church.

3. Bishops have been trying to bring St. Stan's into line with the Church since 1917. The latest conflict actually began when Justin Cardinal Rigali was Archbishop of St. Louis, and it has merely carried over to Archbishop Burke's tenure. Considering the hardness of head and heart of these people, I think the Church has been unusually lenient and very merciful with them.

These people have GOT to be brought into line.

Check out some of the relevant documents here. Especially this Question and Answer document.

Interdict may be too mild a form of punishment for these lunatics.


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