St. Stanislaus Kostka Church is an independent Catholic church located in the city of St. Louis, Missouri. It was established as a Catholic parish in 1880 to serve the Polish community in the Archdiocese of St. Louis. It is considered to be the best example of the opulent Polish Cathedral style of architecture west of the Mississippi River.
The church is notable for a highly publicized dispute over control of the parish and its assets between the church’s lay board of directors and the Archdiocese of St. Louis. In December 2005, the Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke declared the parish’s board members and its priest, Marek Bozek, excommunicated and announced his intention to suppress the parish, that is, disband it, with the likelihood that the premises would be sold. The church responded by holding a Christmas Eve Mass attended by 1,500-2,000 people. The church and the Archdiocese settled their legal dispute in 2013.
The church continues to be maintained and managed by its parishioners as a not-for-profit corporation, calling itself “Catholic”, but which is unaffiliated with the Roman Catholic Church.
Then, under Conflict with Archdiocese
The controversy, involving both the control of the physical and financial assets of the parish and the administrative authority of the archbishop, focused on whether those assets would be controlled by a pastor appointed by the archbishop, which is the canonical norm, or by a lay board of directors who renounced the archbishop’s authority over the board. The controversy began under Cardinal John J. Glennon and continued under the late Cardinal Joseph Ritter and his successors, Archbishop John May, Cardinal Justin Rigali, and Archbishop Raymond Leo Burke. The present Archbishop of St. Louis, Robert James Carlson, is endeavoring to find an adequate compromise that satisfies canon law and all concerned parties, but the breakaway members rejected his latest proposal, though efforts are ongoing.