St. Stanislaus in St. Louis and Fr. Bozek

St. Stanislaus in St. Louis and Fr. Bozek

Canon lawyer Ed Peters offers his perspective on the legal situation regarding St. Stanislaus parish and its new priest. He notes that Bozek has only been ordained three years, but thinks he knows better than his own bishop, the archbishop over St. Stanislaus, and the Vatican in how to deal with this difficult situation. Peters also warns Bozek that he should be worried about more than the censure and excommunication he’s received already.

That’s because with those penalties, as long as he seeks reconciliation with Archbishop Raymond Burke and his own bishop, those can be lifted. But with contumacy for an excommunication imposed for an act of schism, he could be dismissed from the clerical state, and only the Vatican can reverse that. Even then, such reversals are very rare.

Bozek himself acknowledges that Burke is on solid legal ground, but claims to be following a higher law.

To help explain his actions, Bozek quotes from part of Canon 1752, the final law in the Catholic church’s law code, which reads in part, “the salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes.”

“I think it’s significant that the code ends that way,” he said. “There are many canons, and I am breaking some of them. But to me, in that last canon, the word ‘supreme’ means it precedes all the other ones. To me, it’s about saving the souls of the people of St. Stanislaus.”

Sorry, but you don’t get to decide that. Bozek has set himself up as the final arbiter in all things. He decides which laws apply and which don’t. He has become his own pope.

Signs of immaturity?

He also comes off as very immature, even for a 30-year-old priest ordained three years.

Bozek also knows he may come off as high-minded. “My bishop told me I’m naive and idealistic, and I am,” he said. “I’m 30 and I have the right to be. If there’s a time to be idealistic, it’s now. Jesus was idealistic. He did things that were illegal but right. If we give up on our ideals, what are we left with?”

No, you’re a priest and you have no right to naivete. You have a duty to be an adult and to be obedient and to obey the law. Jesus wasn’t just idealistic. He is God. By definition any law that Jesus broke could not have been a just law, since Jesus is Justice himself.

It also sounds like Bozek has a bit of a Messiah complex.

As expected, other rumors and allegations are beginning to fly around as well. There is no solid evidence for any of this so I won’t comment on them. But it wouldn’t surprise me.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli