Friday, December 16, 2005

It's Not Fun, But It's What Was Necessary

This will be remembered in history as the day the archbishop of St. Louis said something which could be boiled down to, "I am the bishop, it is my responsibility to keep this flock together, and I'm not going to take it anymore."

Thank God, because (as schismatics tend to be -- real schismatics, that is) these St. Stan's people are an absolute mess.

From the Archbishop's Column in the St. Louis Review

As archbishop, it is my responsibility to explain the situation to all of the faithful of the archdiocese, who are so deeply affected by what has happened, in order that they not be subjected to further confusion and division, that they not be deceived about the lawfulness and validity of sacraments celebrated by the schismatic priest and that they pray for the reconciliation of those who gone into schism.

Schism is "the refusal of submission to the Supreme Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him" (can. 751). It is the repudiation of the authority which Christ conferred upon St. Peter and the other Apostles in communion with him, and their successors. It, therefore, involves not only a premeditated and most grave act of disobedience to the authority of the Roman Pontiff and the bishops in the communion with him, but also a certain denial of an integral part of the Catholic faith, that is, the apostolic mark of the Church. In other words, those who choose to go into schism believe that they can be the Church without the pastoral teaching, ministration of the sacraments and governance of the Apostles and their successors.
This is also going on in Los Angeles from those who actively and consistently repudiate, mock and seek to discredit the governing authority of the archbishop there. But I digress.
In the case of the board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish, the act of disobedience involves directly not only the archbishop of St. Louis but also the Apostolic See. They have rejected both my direction and the direction of the Apostolic See.
That's right. Go on. Preach it!
Some have understood that the conflict of the members of the board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish and of those who follow them is with me personally. Such is clearly not the case, as the decision of the Congregation for the Clergy indicated. Their conflict is with the Roman Catholic Church. It is a conflict which several of my predecessors addressed in their time. The members of the board of directors refuse to accept the governance of the parish by the Roman Catholic Church, insisting that they remain devout Roman Catholics by governing the parish themselves. They have, thereby, broken the bond of communion with the Apostolic See and the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Some have understood the object of the conflict to be power and money. Such is also clearly not the case. The object of the conflict is obedience, the obedience we all owe to the Apostolic teaching and discipline of the Church.
That's right.
The power in question belongs to Christ alone, who continues to guide the Church through those who act in His person as shepherd and head of the flock, in virtue of the Sacrament of Holy Orders and the jurisdiction conferred by the Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on earth, and the bishops in communion with the Holy Father. It is precisely when we place ourselves above Christ and His authority in the Church that we introduce division into the Body of Christ.
Yes, sir!
Those who commit the ecclesiastical crime of schism incur automatically the penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1364, §1; and 1314). The excommunicated person is forbidden "to have any ministerial participation in celebrating the Sacrifice of the Eucharist or any other ceremonies of worship whatsoever" (can. 1331, §1, 1º); "to celebrate the sacraments or sacramentals, and to receive the sacraments" (can. 1331, §1, 2º); and "to exercise any ecclesiastical offices, ministries or functions whatsoever or to place acts of governance" (can. 1331, §1, 3º). The various elements of the penalty underline the fact that the party in question has broken communion with the Church. The prohibition of receiving the sacraments or sacramentals is suspended when the party under sanction is in danger of death, given that he is otherwise properly disposed (cf. can. 1352, §1).

Although the excommunication is incurred automatically, it is my duty as the diocesan bishop in whose jurisdiction the act of schism has taken place to declare the excommunication, after I have made certain that the parties in question have understood the gravity of their act and its most serious consequences (cf. cann. 1717-1719). It has been made clear to me for some time that the members of the board of directors of the civil corporation of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish have understood that the action of hiring a priest who is not in good standing in the Church to serve them carried with it the penalty of excommunication. Over the months since the imposition of the penalty of interdict, it has been my hope that the members of the board of directors would seek reconciliation. Also, I have renewed several times my offer to execute civil legal documents to guarantee what is already guaranteed by Church discipline, namely, the ownership of the temporal goods of St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish as a personal parish for faithful of Polish language or heritage. The members of the board of directors, however, have insisted on their governance of the parish, even if, at the same time, they have asserted their desire to be part of the Roman Catholic Church. Having attempted to address the situation through fraternal correction and other means of pastoral solicitude, including the pastoral visit of the Most Reverend Ryszard Karpinski, auxiliary bishop of Lublin in Poland and the delegate of the Polish Conference of Bishops for Polish faithful living outside their homeland, now I must declare that the latest action of the members of the board of directors constitutes schism, carrying with it the automatic penalty of excommunication (cf. can. 1341).
Amen. Amen. And Amen! Kudos to Burke.