A Polish Catholic congregation which has been functioning independently since breaking with the St Louis Archdiocese in 2005 is mulling a new relationship with the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, in a move that would give the congregation the security of a broader church structure, while allowing it to preserve its cultural and liturgical identity, the St Louis Post-Dispatch reports at St Louis Today:
Although St. Stanislaus would be governed by the Episcopal Church, it would be able to maintain its Catholic identity and traditions and establish a connection with churches in Europe that have split from the Roman Catholic Church, [St Stanislaus Pastor, the Revd Marek] Bozek said.
Since 1934, the Episcopal Church has been in union with a Netherlands-based federation known as the Union of Utrecht of the Old Catholic Churches. The European denomination, with 115,000 members, separated from Rome in the 19th century over the doctrine of papal infallibility.
Under the agreement, each church agrees to admit members of the other — without requiring the acceptance of all doctrinal opinion, sacramental devotion or liturgical practice of the other.
Importantly for St. Stanislaus, where Mass is celebrated in English and Polish, the Union of Utrecht includes the Polish Catholic Church in Poland, with 78 congregations, and could be a source of young clergy if Bozek were no longer able to serve.
Bishop Wayne Smith, bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Missouri, met with St. Stanislaus members earlier this month. He said in an interview Saturday that “our governing documents, the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church provide the possibility of a parish with a different tradition to keep all their practices but come under the jurisdiction of the bishop … and diocese of Missouri.”
Read more about the proposed new relationship at the St Louis Post-Dispatch.