A reader tipped me to a story in Missouri Lawyers Weekly about one aspect of the current St. Stan’s Board/Archdiocese of Saint Louis lawsuit that involves this blog. Apparently, the Board’s lawyers are trying to disqualify the Archdiocese’s law firm because of an alleged conflict of interest. From the full story (subscription required):
by Rebecca Cole
Remorse attacked St. Louis lawyer Roger Krasnicki in the spring of 2008.
A parishioner at St. Stanislaus, he had helped the church’s board fight for years to keep control of the Polish parish, in north St. Louis.
Also, he’d helped a Polish-born pastor, Rev. Marek Bozek, get a visa, after then-St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke removed two priests from the parish.
Bozek later expressed views on women in the priesthood and open communion that repulsed Krasnicki, who held more conventional Catholic beliefs.
That’s what Krasnicki said in a March 2008 interview with “St. Louis Catholic,” a blog that advocates traditional Catholicism.
“I feel terrible,” Krasnicki said in the interview. “I feel that my actions have led to this by bringing this idiot in, and I feel great responsibility for it.”
What Krasnicki allegedly did about three months after that interview is at the center of an attempt to kick lawyers for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Louis off a lawsuit over control of the parish.
The church board claims Krasnicki took confidential documents he got as a de facto in-house counsel to the parish throughout 30 years and gave them to Greensfelder, Hemker & Gale attorneys representing the archdiocese.
Three weeks after Krasnicki met with Greensfelder attorneys, they filed the lawsuit on behalf of the archdioceses against the board.
An attorney for Greensfelder said Krasnicki, who has a trust and litigation practice, was never anything more than a spokesman for the board and had never been the parish’s lawyer, as proved by two letters signed by the church board’s chairman, William Bialczak.
The issue of whether Greensfelder can remain on the case is in the Missouri Eastern District Court of Appeals, after St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Bryan Hettenbach declined to boot the law firm. The judge said in an Aug. 13 order that it appeared Krasnicki was never formally retained or paid as a lawyer for the parish, although he used his legal training “to play many roles” for the church, its board and other parishioners.
Krasnicki had concerns about control of the church beyond the canonical law issues, according to a letter on his letterhead sent to the IRS in February 2008.
The letter, included among the 92 exhibits filed with the circuit court motion to disqualify Greensfelder, complained that treasurer Joseph Rudawski wouldn’t provide full information about the church’s finances.
The church has annual income of more than $200,000 and holds assets of $9 million, including $7 million worth of real estate, Krasnicki said in the letter.
SLC Note: I doubt whether anyone would pay $7 million for the St. Stanislaus Kostka Corporation’s real estate. In any event, even if this were an accurate value in February 2008, it would be substantially less now. As to the annual income figure, the $200,000 (if accurate) amounts to a weekly collection of $3,847. Not insubstantial, but hardly the booming, free-love, packed-to-the-gills, prog-magnet that Mr. Bozek tries to sell the press. But pictures of the now-sparsely attended liturgies that sometimes get run on local news (a welcome truth-break from the reruns of Christmas Eve 2005) have already spilled the beans on that. I get the feeling–and this is speculation, I admit, that the bulk of the annual income comes from mailed-in donations from well-wishing heretics out and about, as opposed to those given during liturgies.
In any event, regardless of the outcome of the litigation, I want to ask readers for prayers for Mr. Krasnicki and those Board members who reconciled with the Church. Regardless of past errors, it took courage and humility to come back into the fold, knowing they were leaving some friends (current or former) back at the house of schism. I further pray this mess is finally cleaned up soon.