Here are two sidebars to the previous story.
Lay boards are mostly a thing of the past
A collision in the in the late 18th and early 19th centuries between old Europe and American Protestantism helped bring about the issue of trusteeism, said Dr. Patrick Carey, a theology professor at Marquette University and the foremost expert on the phenomenon.
Immigrants, Carey said, had brought in the concept of “jus patronatus” or right of patronage that was given when royalty or nobles set up churches or dioceses in their countries. The person who set it up and paid for it had the right to name the priest or bishop. When Catholics came to the U.S., they bought into the idea that the people were kings and “therefore they should have the same rights,” Carey said. So laity set up corporations under various state laws and got the deeds to the church properties.
This set up a confrontation with the bishops who, in 1829, decreed at a provincial council in Baltimore that all Church property would belong to the diocese.
It took some time for this to take effect, with cases of trusteeism arising all the way into the 1980's. St. Stanislaus Kostka Parish in St. Louis is a remnant of that set up.
St. Stanislaus is a Polish parish, and at the time of its civil incorporation in 1891, there were a number of Polish parishes around the country arguing with their bishops and taking control of parish property.
Much of the conflict was ethnic in origin, Carey said, with Poles feeling they weren’t getting their needs met by their non-Polish bishops, and some leaving the Church. Eventually, some of these Polish churches formed the Polish National Catholic Church in the early 1900's.
This is what Archbishop Kenrick was facing with St. Stanislaus, according to experts who have studied the situation, and the concession was made in order to keep them in the Church.
1880 – St. Stanislaus Parish founded
1891 – Lay board formally incorporates as civil corporation
Sept. 2003 – Archbishop Justin Rigali meets with the board to ask them to hand over the assets and property to archdiocese.
Oct. 2003 – Archbishop Rigali transferred to Philadelphia
Jan. 26, 2004 – Archbishop Burke installed in St. Louis
Feb. 2004 – Board meets with Archbishop Burke
March 2004 – Parish meets with Archbishop Burke, who is booed, with participation of his detractors from La Crosse
August 2004 – Parish administrator and another priest are moved by Archbishop Burke from St. Stan’s to nearby St. John the Apostle and Evangelist. The ministry to Polish community is moved there, too.
Nov. 11, 2004 – Congregation for the Clergy denies appeal from Board over priests’ move.
Christmas – Board spirits in priest from another diocese to celebrate Christmas Midnight Mass. Board claims he had permission from his bishop and did not need it from the archbishop.
Jan. 2005 – Board votes on question of whether or not to hand over assets and property to archdiocese. Voted down 299-5. Archdiocese states, though, that is not the question. Archbishop warns of possible interdict against board members.
Feb. 10, 2005 – Archbishop issues interdicts against six board members
Feb. 22, 2005 – Board decides not to appeal interdicts
Feb. 25, 2005 – Archbishop announces Polish ministry will be moved to St. Agatha Parish on city’s south side effective July 1.