Dissident priest laicized in St. Louis

March 10, 2009 at 2:55 PM

ST. LOUIS, March 10 (UPI) -- The dissident pastor of a dissident Roman Catholic church in St. Louis has been laicized, or stripped of his priestly functions, officials said.

The Rev. Marek Bozek told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that he plans to carry on at St. Stanislaus. He said that he and the church board will ignore Pope Benedict XVI's action.

"We don't recognize this unjust action, the same way we don't recognize the excommunications," Bozek said.

Bozek came from the Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Mo., diocese and the bishop there, James Johnston, said that the only priestly function Bozek is now allowed is to give the last rites to the dying.

In 2005, when Bozek moved to St. Louis to become pastor at St. Stanislaus without authorization he and the parish were excommunicated. The church, in a dispute with the diocese, had amended its bylaws to strip the archbishop of the right to remove pastors or appoint people to the board.

At St. Stanislaus, Bozek advocates the ordination of women, an end to clerical celibacy and the recognition of gay relationships. While this has upset some members of the parish, the church has acquired scores of new members who welcome the change, the Post-Dispatch said.

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