St. Louis Public Radio News
11:44 am
Mon March 9, 2009

Renegade priest stripped of clerical status

St. Louis, MO – The Vatican has stripped Marek Bozek of his status as a Catholic priest for his role in the ongoing battle over the property of St. Stanislaus Catholic Church.

Bozek was originally hired in December 2005 by the board that oversees the church. Former St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke removed the parish's original priest in a dispute over control of parish assets.

Bozek, who is from Poland, was an associate pastor at St. Agnes Cathedral in Springfield, Mo. when he accepted the St. Stanislaus job without permission of the Springfield bishop. That led to his excommunication, and Burke declared that St. Stanislaus was no longer part of the Roman Catholic Church.

Bozek received a standing ovation from parish members who gathered at St. Stanislaus on short notice Monday night when he announced that the parish would celebrate a Stations of the Cross Mass on Friday. He told members that nothing would change with his dismissal. "In the face of all that the hierarchy have done, St. Stanislaus lives," Bozek said. "I will continue serving the people of St. Stanislaus."

Bozek said he had a year ago received temporary authority to perform priestly duties from an archbishop named Phillip Zimmerman, who heads the Reformed Catholic Church. Zimmerman, whose ordination is not recognized by the Vatican, is an openly gay man living with his longtime partner.

Bozek's dismissal does not affect an ongoing lawsuit over St. Stanislaus. The Archdiocese and several parishioners are seeking to restore an 1891 agreement that gave a board limited control of the parish.