But this is only part of the picture.
They say hindsight is 20/20, but I was on record from the beginning (beginning paragraph 4) that this civil lawsuit, the object of which was, in effect, to ask a secular Court to determine whether St. Stan's was a Catholic parish, was a dangerous strategy. This determination is beyond the competence of a civil Court, and puts it, at least in appearance, in the position of superiority to the Church. It isn't superior-- at best it is equal, with its own sphere of jurisdiction, and in matters of faith and morals it is inferior. Moreover, the decision about which matters are proper for the Church to decide and which aren't is also the Church's sphere.
There is also the practical observation, which the bishops are perhaps at last beginning to understand regarding the abortion drug mandate, that the deck is most certainly stacked against the Church in the civil legal realm.
By making the fight one for control of the former parish, the Archdiocese put its credibility in this dispute before the Court, and as it would have used it if it had won, it suffers from a diminishment now it has lost.
Under these circumstances, I agree with the decision to appeal the ruling. There is so much error in this decision-- precisely on those matters of ecclesiastical law and internal Church governance that are precisely those beyond the Court's competence-- that they cannot go unappealed.
With respect, I suggest that such reasoning certainly confirms that the judge in this case (as the media uniformly trumpets) is the product of Catholic education in the last fifty years. Yet another poster for Catholic schools week down the drain, I guess. In addition to seeking the recusal of homosexual judges in civil suits, dioceses may wish to ask any judge who was graduated from a Catholic school after 1958 to recuse himself.
The struggle for St. Stan's is twofold. For the Archdiocese, it is about safeguarding souls. That is why the remedies imposed by then-Archbishop Burke were spiritual ones. These included suppression of the parish (which, by the way, should have settled the matter for any civil Court), degrading Bozek from the clerical state, excommunications of Bozek and Board members, a new Polish parish, etc. These remedies produced some positive results. Many Board members were reconciled with the Church. Polish Catholics in St. Louis were provided with another apostolate. Catholics of good will were put on notice that St. Stanislaus is not Catholic. Bozek and the unrepentant Board members are on notice that their souls are in jeopardy. The momentum, for a time, seemed to be on the Church's side, and there was an unsuccessful attempt to oust Bozek and his tow-truck allies on the Board.
On the financial and civil side, this is really a dispute between current and former St. Stan's Board members over the (mis-) management of the money. As I suggested before, the best way to go about addressing that issue would have been for a current or former Board member to sue for an accounting in civil Court. This, if successful, would have required the Board to open the books to Court, and thus public, scrutiny. I have a hunch they would have been most unwilling to do this, and then, just maybe, they might have been willing to oust Bozek and settle with the Archdiocese. This kind of action can still be attempted, but the victors of the current suit may not be as likely to settle, being flush with success.
So, anyway, that's the way I see it. When I have a complete copy of Judge Hettenbach's ruling I might post an analysis.
Let's hope the Archdiocese wins this appeal. Or else, to paraphrase my favorite Bozek quote: "Despair, St. Louis, beware, rest of world."