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A “proud Catholic” Takes Me To Task…Anonymously

July 11, 2007 North City, Religion 23 Comments

Two years ago the big controversy in town was the tug of war between Archbiship Burke and the lay board of St. Stanislaus Kaska over their property, building and substantial endowment. Although excommunicated, to my knowledge the lay board still controls the church’s financial matters.

Recently someone stumbled onto my post from December 5, 2005, St. Stanislaus Kostka to Welcome Father Mark on Christmas Eve, and had a few things to say

You do yourself and your readers a deep disservice when you write out of such ignorance and limited knowledge. Not being a Catholic (or Polish if that has anything to do with it) you show your ignorance of the governance and organization of the Roman Catholic Church when you write about the lay board being more able to govern the finances of the Archdiocese as well as when you write about St Stan’s “belonging” to the parishioners. Study your American Catholic history, friend, and you will find millions of immigrants and native-born ethnic folks who have given their last pennies to their Catholic parish, not because it belongs to them, but precisely because it DOESN’T–it belongs to God, as does all glory, laud and honor. And because the Churches belong to God and not just people, the Catholic Church entrusts them and their finances to the existing Church reporting structure so that prideful, controlling manipulating people don’t try to “own” what belongs to God! I know this is much after the fact, but I just read your blaaagghh and totally disagree. And please keep the judgement call about “harshbishop” Burke to yourself unless and until you ARE Catholic AND Polish!

I’ll be the first to admit that I know little about the Catholic Church, what I do know doesn’t impress. Although I was not raised in a specific faith, my mother was raised Mennonite. My upbringing was largely based on what my mom learned from being raised Mennonite in a small farm community in western Oklahoma (the 2000 census shows a population of less than 600). That whole side of my family is filled with Mennonites and Friends/Quakers. One of my mom’s aunts was a missionary in Africa (the largest Mennonite population is in Africa) and another uncle was a published theologian. One of the things that appealed to me about my family’s history and faith is that it was built around a simple life and local control – values I hold very dear.

So for me the notion of a local man, himself controlled by a man in Rome, having power over a group that has for decades fought to save their church against very high odds is just a foreign concept. Did God make up these rules or men in power? Then we have people giving their “last pennies” to a church that then closes — using those pennies to build new facilities in exurban areas in the region while abandoning areas in the urban core. If the churches belong to God then God needs to do a better job maintaining the buildings that have been left to deteriorate.
As far as my views, I will continue to exercise my rights of free speech and freedom of religion. If you don’t like what I say, you have the freedom to ignore me or vocally disagree. Catholicism is not the official religion here in St. Louis despite my alderwoman referring to areas by their parish. I am curious though, now many “proud” Catholics against a lay board running the finances at St. Stans support the lay board running the finances at St. Louis University?


Currently there are "23 comments" on this Article:

  1. Adam says:

    “And because the Churches belong to God and not just people, the Catholic Church entrusts them and their finances to the existing Church reporting structure so that prideful, controlling manipulating people don’t try to “own” what belongs to God!”

    hmmm … except that “Church reporting structure” = “prideful, controlling manipulating people … who ‘own’ what belongs to God”. unless, of course, you believe that the pope and his henchmen in rome are not human (in many ways they are not, i think, but not in the sense that they are above pride, control, and manipulation). and then a “proud” catholic may argue that the pope is infallible or that god speaks through the pope or some other make-believe crap that is either unprovable, disprovable, or self-contradictory, at which point all you can do is walk away because you can’t argue with make-believe.

  2. Adam says:

    i suppose i should have asked: i went to catholic school for 13 years … am i qualified to express an opinion about the catholic church?

  3. S.Peter says:

    …And did the poor people who gave their last penny to God expect it to go to defending guilty priests who have been molesting and sodomizing children?! What a joke!
    This ‘wonderful’ Archbishop has been covering up child abuse in the Church in every city he goes, check his record. The faithful people are the church of God (or so it can be argued for those that believe), not a corrupt organization of men, following rules set-up by men that have been manipulated by ‘Man’ since about 70 A.D.
    Hands off St. Stans’!

  4. StL_Stadroller says:

    Explain to me again why GOD needs money?? It slipped my mind.

  5. Craig says:

    It’s unfair to compare control of SLU — an institution run on Catholic ideals by the choice of a lay bopard — to a parish of the Catholic church. The parish is part of an established hierarchy of Catholic authority. Not so with SLU.

    And for those who have a problem with the concept of following the rules of Rome because it is far away somehow confuse geography with legitimacy. As an example, certain rules – like basic human rights – apply to everyone no matter where they live. Just because such rights are articulated by the UN in New York, it doesn’t mean that they don’t apply to someone in a non-UN country.

    There is something to be said for having one leader of a worldwide church – a leader who can trace his appointment back to Jesus Christ himself.

  6. jj says:

    You were the first person to mention SLU. You’ve confused me.

  7. Bridgett says:

    jj, actually Steve mentioned SLU at the end of his post.

    I am a devout Catholic. I’m one of those church ladies who take care of linens and flowers at her local parish. I’m on parish council, I help with RCIA (bringing people into the church who want to join), children’s liturgy, etc. I’m in my formation year to become a Benedictine Oblate. I’m very Catholic.

    And I know, I know, that the church is bigger than me. It is also bigger than Burke. It has a longstanding tradition and it moves very, very slowly. And I also realize we are 50 years out from Vatican II, and this is a testing time, to see what will last and become tradition and what will pass away.

    But I also know i’m just as Catholic as someone who is ordained. I’m just as much The Church as Burke is. Just as much as Catholic Workers and Latin Mass attendees. We share the same kerigma of faith. The Church is catholic (universal) and the Church is run by people–by men. And my opinion on things that are not dogmatic is just as valid as opinions held by members of the hierarchy. There is nothing that says I must agree with everything my archbishop does or believes.

    But I do not have some special position from which I can criticize what is happening in my Church. There is no reason why someone outside the Catholic faith couldn’t come up with intelligent reasoning to doubt the actions of the archbishop. To put things in terms of faith, why would God only speak through Catholics? Through archbishops? Why wouldn’t the Holy Spirit raise up questions through intelligent outsiders? In the Bible, Jesus has his longest conversation with a Samaritan WOMAN. He says to let the children come to him, don’t keep them away. The men who lead our church right now are far more akin to Biblical era Pharisees than they are to Jesus. No matter what their “lineage” may be.

  8. Brad Mello says:

    Oh Steve, you love a wasp nest don’t you? Has anyone heard the latest from the Grand Wizzard, that only Catholics can go to heaven? Looks like most of us are in deep kimchi.

  9. Maurice says:

    Bridgett, I like your thinking. The Church is more than stone or men or money. Yes there have been abuses, what organization doesn’t? But what organization has lasted 2000 years?

    People can complain all they want, if they don’t like it, then they can easily find another religion that suits what they are seeking.

    There is a religion for every person.

  10. Dan Icolari says:

    To this Jew (and synagogue member), the comment of your ‘proud’ Catholic respondent was an instant reminder of the so-called leaders of the American Jewish community who tell us we’re not entitled to criticize Israeli policy vis-a-vis the Palestinians because we don’t live there and don’t understand.

    On this basis, we might as well abolish the United Nations; disentangle ourselves from treaty obligations; and keep silent as atrocities continue in more worldwide locations than we can count. Sorry, Charlie: We have the right, and some would say the responsibility, to call ’em as we see ’em–whether powerful institutions, and their defenders, like it or not.

  11. downtown says:

    St. Louis is an organization town, and the Catholic Church is the largest organization in the world. St. Louis (get it, “Saint” Louis) and the Catholic Church: A Marriage Made in Rome (Heaven).

  12. Everyone seems to forget that a man, Emperor Constantine, created the catholic church with the Council of Nicea. Thus I wonder why it, and religion in general, stress subservience ?

  13. sustainable says:

    Last night MSNBC ran a special where Stone Phillips interviewed Jeff Dahmer, serial killer, sadist, and canibal. Dahmer stated that he had come to accept the Jesus Christ as his personal lord and savior, and that he believed his killing spree was largely due to the fact that he had no internal faith system to suppress his anti-social tendencies. Shortly after the MNSBC interview, he was murdered in prison. Do Catholics believe Dahmer was accepted into heaven? I suppose that would depend on whether he converted and become Catholic.

  14. michael says:

    Hi, just a word about sustainable’s post:

    Catholic teaching holds that it is God alone who determines who is accepted into heaven. God is understood as a forgiving God. So, if Dahmer did honestly seek forgiveness from God with a contrite heart, Catholic theology would hold that God would forgive him.

    (Honestly, without the possibility of forgiveness, Christianity is worth very little.)

    Further, you don’t have to be Christian or Catholic to be accepted into heaven. Catholics believe that being a Catholic Christian is the most assured way to live one’s life and get to heaven, but no one can limit God’s salvation.


  15. publicpolicy says:


    Did you hear the Pope say just this week how there is no real church besides the Catholic Church? Hence, no path for salvation save the Catholic Church? Right? Makes me glad to be Catholic, but too bad for Dahmer and all the other protestants. If you’re Jewish, well, fuhghettaboutit.

  16. Craig says:

    Mr. Duckworth, you are flat-out wrong about the Council of Nicea “creating” the catholic Church.

  17. Elaborate, please do.

  18. Maurice says:

    The Church also passed a ruling that stated babies born but not yet baptized would most probably get into heaven as well….yet they are not yet true catholics (not being baptized).

    Salvation is beyond this discussion as only God can decide.

  19. Jeff Jackson says:

    Regarding the side discussion on the recent statement about “Catholics” being the only one’s guaranteed “salvation”. I find it interesting that Jesus was a Jew. Christ was killed by Romans (Of course his followers yelled to Crucify him) and where is the Pope (Rome)? Keep digging and think for yourselves. My dad has made the same claim that since I converted back to Methodism. I am not part of the one true faith “Lutheran”. I respect all basic faiths (baring the extreme, i.e. Satinism etc.) because ultimately none of us is God and the basic thing God (whoever you think he / she is) taught us is to LOVE one another. If we can use that as our Universal focus maybe the stone throwing or telling that only One way is the way, then wars would end. Shalom and Peace to all who are reading!


  20. Mary E. Homan, MA says:

    As a lay systematic theologian and devout, whilst liberal Catholic, I feel it necessary to dispel some “church” myths as well as clarify some points in history as well as the modern day.

    Adam, yes you are entitled to express an (no matter how theologically crass) opinion based on your experience of having gone through Catholic school. Though let’s be honest that Catholic education is not the same as directed theological study therefore you cannot speak as a voice of authority on the faith. You may however feel free to vent your opinions however theologically unfounded they may be. Please pardon my harshness.

    Craig is correct in stating that comparing a lay board that runs a Catholic University to a lay board running an excommunicated parish is not the same. According to Canon Law 1255 “The universal Church, as well as the Apostolic See, particular Churches and all other public and private juridical persons are capable of acquiring, retaining, administering and alienating temporal goods, in accordance with the law.” Here we are interested in the notion of a juridical person. Canon 114 §1 informs the faithful that “Aggregates of person or of things which are directed to a purpose befitting the Church’s mission, which transcends the purpose of the individuals, are constituted juridical persons either by a provision of the law itself or by a special concession given in the form of a decree by the competent authority.” John Huels, JCD gives the example of an established Church corporation, e.g. a diocese, a province of a religious institute, a Catholic hospital, a charitable foundation.

    Ah ha! From this example we can gather that the lay board of Saint Louis University is a juridical person on its basis that it sponsored by the Jesuits of the Missouri Province. Canon 116§2 “Public juridical persons are given this personality [fulfilling a specific task entrusted to them for the public good] either by the law itself or by a special decree of the competent authority expressly granting it.” Therefore SLU’s lay board is not the same as the lay board of St. Stanislaus because St. Stanislaus is governed by the Archdiocese of Saint Louis. Though (prior to excommunication) it was a juridical person in that gifts given to St. Stanislaus, stayed with the parish however, Canon 1276§1 “Ordinaries must carefully supervise the administration of all good which belong to the public juridical persons subject to them” which includes St. Stanislaus belonging to the Archdiocese. Priests (including Fr. Biondi) serve at the pleasure of the episcopate. If Fr. Biondi renounced the divinity and humanity of Christ, he would be sure to answer to not only the Superior General of the Jesuits but also to Archbishop Burke as did the parishioners at St. Stanislaus have to answer to Archbishop Burke when he informed them that their parish assets contributed to those of the archdiocese.

    Onto Mr. Duckworth’s claim that Constantine “created” Catholicism. That’s an interesting postulate as the distinction between Catholic and Protestant did not manifest itself into the everyday language until significantly post-Wittenberg with the 95 Theses of Martin Luther our famed Augustian monk. And even he did not want to create a faction or a little schism as it were within the Church. The First Ecumenical Council of Nicea, 325 CE was CONVOKED by Emperor Constantine the Great to deal with the Arian heresy (where Arius, an Alexandrian priest, had claimed that Christ was merely the first among God’s creatures and separated the notion of Christ’s divinity and humanity) whereas the Church fathers of Nicea created oikonomia and theologia that blurred the dynamics of soteriology. The errors held by Arius influenced the Church Fathers to be precise in the formulation of the orthodox Trinitarian doctrine as a confession of faith in a way that kept out heretical views. Hence, we take from the First Ecumenical Council of Nicea the commonly known Nicene Creed as a promulgation of our faith.

    As far as Catholicism is concerned, IMHO and my very well-educated opinion even the most well-meaning, perhaps even most devout Catholics lack a truly basic foundation in theological premises. Perhaps even more disturbing are people like you Steve who have limited information and care to simply dismiss in the name (even if well-intentioned) of equity. Yes, you are entitled to your right to express your freedom of speech and of religion. But one person’s rights end when another person’s rights are threatened. In your hastening to point out the malarkey of the Archbishop, you have failed to educate yourself in the grounding principles. Arch. Burke did not simply concoct these principles as a way to subjugate and repress nor does the hierarchy of the Church.

    I am very rarely one to defend the hierarchy in its lust for power, honor, and an ill-defined notion of piety but I will defend the Tradition and tradition of the Church. I serve on the board of the Polish Heritage Library and take seriously my commitment to “all things Polish” including sticking my neck on the line for the sake of remembering what is right about Tradition instead of adhering to tradition. I have put my theological expertise also at risk by answering to blanket attacks. Your consistent swipes at Catholicism and the structure of the Church are both shameful and hurtful. You have failed to recognize the intrinsic nature of God at work by limiting Catholics to a box on a census gathering. Your lack of expertise and your glib attitude will not rectify the wrongs; you will garner support from those subject to bad times. Is that really worth it?

    [SLP — So only those from “directed theological study” are qualified to comment on matters of faith? My “consistent swipes” are at the institutionalized religion in this town which happens to be Catholicism.  If I lived in Salt Lake City you’d probably not hear much more about Mormonism.  When my elected official, talking to me in City Hall, describes where someone lives by their Catholic parish then we have a problem.  When a church leader, any church leader, comes after a group that has worked hard to keep a church open against very tall odds I will stand with that neighborhood church regardless of what some men have passed down over the years as their doctrine — it does not apply to me.  

    I have spoken before the Preservation Board against the demolition of at least two churches — one Catholic (now razed) and one Pentecostal (still standing).  If you want to talk about shameful and hurtful lets talk about all the Catholics in our region that, along with others, have moved to the far edges of the region to avoid people of color or of lower economic classes than themselves.  Perhaps if more Catholics in our region would educate themselves on community they’d reconsider their living choices (Sidewalks in the Kingdom is a very good start).

    Now your Pope is claiming that Catholicism is the only true religion? Oh brother!  I am not Catholic, not Polish and certainly not any sort of Theologian.  Nor will I ever be any of these.  I’m also not going to be intimidated into silence by “theological expertise.”]

  21. Maurice says:

    Thats the greatness of this country. One can complain and protest about any subject they feel like, regardless of their level of expertise.

    But then again, if one is catholic or protestant or lutheran, then one should know a bit about their religion and if one is not a member, then one should at least respect those that are and not paint them all with the same brushstroke.

    [SLP — Maurice, you are referring to the Pope dismissing all other faiths with one brushtroke right?]

  22. Adam says:


    you are correct, i have little formal training in academic theology. however, i have considerable training in the scientific method and, fortunately, whether or not my opinion is THEOLOGICALLY founded has no bearing on its EMPIRICAL foundation (i.e. reality). to my knowldege, the catholic church STILL holds as basic precepts the “mystery” of the trinity, the “mystery” of the immaculate conception, the “mystery” of transubstantiation, the “mystery” of the resurrection, the “mystery” of the assumption, papal infallibility, and on and on ad nauseam. i am especially fond of how the church labels its most blatant affronts to reason as “mysteries” and “miracles”. frankly the only mystery is how anyone could believe such tripe. let’s also be honest that catholic theology is hardly impartial as it PRESUMES catholic dogma first and then attempts to reconcile its absurdities with reality by contriving untestable, pseudo-intellectual “theories” and “proofs” such as those of thomas aquinas, for example, none of which have survived logical scrutiny.

    “But one person’s rights end when another person’s rights are threatened.”

    not only is this comment completely out of place, as no rights have been threatened by the opinions expressed on this blog, but it is infuriatingly hypocritical when self-appointed persecuted christians play the civil rights card when they are not allowed to impose their beliefs on non-christians. the church has, on countless occasions, actively and passively promoted policies that threaten lives, dignity, and civil rights while pushing their obsolete morals. a couple of examples: the catholic church opposed women’s suffrage and STILL denies women positions of highest authority in the church; the catholic church has issued multiple decrees opposing any type of CIVIL union or adoption rights for same-sex couples although there is NO scientific evidence that either is harmful to society; the catholic church refuses to promote artificial methods of contraception in AIDS-plagued africa despite the CDC’s analysis that condoms are 90% effective at stopping the spread of HIV when used properly, and despite the increasing frequency of virgin (i.e. child) rape as a supposed “cure” for the disease; after securing freedom of worship for german catholics during nazi control of WW2 germany, the pope remained silent as millions of german jews were ushered into gas chambers. these are off the top of my head but i’m sure i could go dig up a few more. until the church stops dipping its meddling hands into world politics, poor persecuted catholics who support the vatican will get no sympathy from me. furthermore, i will not walk on egg shells around your faith when that faith is riddled with contradictions, opposed to reality, and a threat to my civil rights. by the way, thank you so much for putting your “expertise” – though i think you meant reputation – on the line for us all.

  23. ryan says:

    “If you want to talk about shameful and hurtful lets talk about all the Catholics in our region that, along with others, have moved to the far edges of the region to avoid people of color or of lower economic classes than themselves.”

    Wow. Insert foot in mouth. So Catholics are from one region, without color, and of economic means. I learned something new today. Thanks.

    I’d take this up with the church, but they are a little busy housing, feeding, and teaching those of lower economic classes in our area, the country, and the rest of the world. Organized religion may not be for everyone, but they also organize funds and material for helping those in need. Your sarcasim and wit will never pay for a home for abused women, schools, or missions in Africa. Those Catholics, who needs em.


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