St. Louis Review reports at length on decision handed down yesterday by a Missouri state trial court judge rejecting attempts by the Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis and former parishioners of St. Stanislaus Kostka Church to return the congregation to communion with the Catholic Church. The church was created as a separate non-profit corporation in 1891. A parallel parish, originally created by the Franciscans, operated under the control of the Archbishop at the church. In 2003, St. Stanislaus' members rejected demands from the Catholic Archdiocese to restructure and turn its assets over to the Archbishop. A year later the Archbishop declared that St. Stanislaus is no longer a Catholic parish and moved the exsiting parish to a different location. Board members, and a priest hired by the church, were excommunicated.
In Krauze v. Polish Roman Catholic St. Stanislaus Parish, (MO Cir. Ct., March 15, 2012), the court held that Church bylaws are not inconsistent with its Articles of Agreement, and that the church's property belongs to the congregation, not the Archdiocese. Summarizing the issues it faced, the court said:
[I]n 1891 the predecessors of today’s litigants struck a tacit bargain that, in regard to St. Stanislaus, the Archdiocese would not overreach into civil corporate matters and the Parish Corporation would leave religious matters to the Archbishop. Since neither side anticipated that the other would ever break that deal, both sides now seek to have the Court enter a judgment declaring that the other side has breached....
After analysis of the articles, the charter, the bylaws and Canon law, ultimately it is clear that a declaratory judgment in Plaintiffs’ favor would not finally resolve issues with St.Stanislaus Corporation.In passing on the question of title to the church's property, the court said:
The Archbishop may own the souls of wayward St. Stanislaus parishioners, but the St. Stanislaus Parish Corporation owns its own property.