Sunday, June 8, 2008

Excommunicated St. Stanislaus member reconciles with Archbishop Burke, Church

(St. Louis Review) - Edward Florek, excommunicated in December 2005 for being part of the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation board of directors that fought Archbishop Raymond L. Burke over parish restructuring, privately met with the archbishop this week and was reconciled with the Church.

Florek, 63, a St. Stanislaus parishioner for 33 years since coming from Poland, said he broke ranks with the St. Stanislaus board in March. He told the Review he had concluded that Father Marek Bozek, whom the board hired as its pastor after the archbishop recalled the parish’s priests in 2004, was leading the parish away from Roman Catholicism.

He said he stopped attending St. Stanislaus Church in March when Father Bozek "refused to enter discussions with the archbishop."

"Most important for me, I didn’t see the solution (being) under Father Bozek’s guidance," Florek said. "I would like us to be part of the Roman Catholic Church."

The reconciliation occurred June 2 at the Catholic Center in the Central West End. Florek said he initiated the meeting with Archbishop Burke through a phone call to Msgr. Vernon Gardin, a vicar general for the archdiocese.

Florek is the only one of eight excommunicated St. Stanislaus board members to seek a reconciliation with the archbishop. The board represents St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation, which the archdiocese considers a civil organization and no longer a parish.

When they met, Florek said, he prayed the Nicene Creed with the archbishop then took an oath of loyalty to him and the Catholic Church. For that, Florek was "restored to the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church," according to a decree from Archbishop Burke.

"I am profoundly happy that Mr. Florek has reconciled himself and is now, once again, in full communion with the Roman Catholic Church," the archbishop said in a prepared statement after the meeting. "His return gives hope that other board members will return home to the Catholic Church. I ask the faithful of the archdiocese to continue to pray for that intention."

Florek said the situation at St. Stanislaus, founded by Polish immigrants in 1880, is "complicated."

In 1891 Archbishop Peter Kenrick allowed the parish to form a lay trustee board to control parish finances and own the parish’s property. Shortly after Archbishop Burke began his duties in St. Louis in 2004, he continued the effort Archbishop Justin Rigali had started the year before to persuade the board to transfer property ownership to the archdiocese.

The board, stating concerns over the future of the parish should it allow the property transfer, publicly stated that it could not reach an agreement with the archbishop.

Archbishop Burke later declared the parish outside the sphere of the archdiocese and excommunicated its six board members, of whom Florek was one. While Florek left the board last year, the people taking his and another board member’s slots have both been excommunicated.

Asked if he regretted what he’d done, Florek said, "I regret that we didn’t envision the harm which we did to the parish and St. Louis.

"We worried not only about the financial angle of the parish but about the spiritual guidance. We protected the financial part of the parish but we lost on the spiritual guidance and direction leading us from the Roman Catholic Church," Florek said.

Florek said recently he has written "open letters" to St. Stanislaus members encouring reconciliation.

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