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Issue Date:  March 21, 2008

St. Louis archbishop moves to have priest laicized

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke is moving to have Fr. Marek Bozek, pastor of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church (NCR, Feb. 22), removed from the priesthood.

In a decree published March 7 in the archdiocesan newspaper, Burke accused Bozek of breaking with the Catholic church, its teachings, sacraments and governance. Since 2005, Bozek has been at St. Stanislaus, a parish Burke has tried to suppress because it is governed by a lay board.

The archbishop said that any Catholic who knowingly participates in Bozek’s misconduct commits a serious sin. An article in the St. Louis Review said the archdiocese is offering assistance to people who have invalidly received the sacraments from Bozek.

Bozek was scheduled to attend a hearing with Burke and two canon lawyers assessing the case March 5. At a news conference just before the meeting, the Polish-born priest announced that he would not attend.

“I will not subject myself any more to this humiliating process,” he said.

Bozek said his canon lawyer has advised him “that I am not guilty of any single one of these charges. I believe I am not, and that’s my lawyer’s advice.”

Burke’s decree says Bozek is guilty of eight “canonical delicts” including:

  • “Pertinacious rejection” of the church’s infallible doctrine that women cannot be ordained;
  • “Simony”;
  • “Illegitimate exercise of the priestly ministry”;
  • “Inciting and provoking animosity or hatred toward and disobedience against the Apostolic See or a bishop.”

The decree accuses Bozek of a ninth violation: “Protracted contumacy in schism.” The archbishop is empanelling a tribunal to consider this charge, which could lead to Bozek’s dismissal from the clerical state.

Bozek told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he had communicated with other “valid Catholic bishops” who might be willing to accept him. He did not identify any bishop.

Three hundred St. Stanislaus parishioners attended a church board meeting March 2 to discuss whether the parish should stand behind Bozek. Board chairman William Bialczak estimates that about 100 of the 550 registered parishioners want Bozek removed.

Two St. Louis women received notifications of excommunication from Burke March 12. Rose Marie Dunn Hudson and Elsie Hainz McGrath were ordained Nov. 11 by Bishop Patricia Fresen of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement. The notices include Fresen’s name, though Fresen is a resident of Germany.

-- NCR Staff

National Catholic Reporter, March 21, 2008

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