It looks like there’s a renegade priest in St. Louis.
It started as a property dispute (isn’t it always, really, about money?). A parish, with enormous private resources, is worried the archdiocese will spend the parish’s money to pay for diocesan scandals. They refuse to hand over the money. So the archdiocese withholds communion. And then a young progressive priest, Marek Bozek, then holds renegade masses.
He gets excommunicated.
But he still says mass. He starts sharing what he really thinks. The church grows.
Clearly the church didn’t recognize that the parish didn’t trust them. They simply said, “hand over $8 million. We know what to do with it.” It doesn’t sound like they gave the congregation any alternative or included them in the decision making. That’s arrogance.
They also didn’t seem to understand that withholding communion would not be a particularly effective way to… build trust.
By pushing the envelope and behaving with a heavy hand, the laity has found some new power. They’ve also shown they’re willing to tell the archdiocese to “shove it.” Why? Because there’s no evidence the archdiocese gives a damn about its flock.
It may be that there is a cult of personality around Fr. Bozek. That is often what happens when the order, the diocesan bureaucracy becomes an object of scorn. It may be what currently sustains the parish, and it’s current vitality may not survive without him. But with some charity, forgiveness, and a little humility, the church might find some creative solutions to this mess.
Still, the archdioceses’ current behavior is shameful, a perfect example of why there are so many frustrated RC laity.