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Catholic Church & Rebel Parish Declare Truce

ST. LOUIS (CN) - St. Stanislaus Kostka Catholic Church has won a long-running battle with the St. Louis Archdiocese for control of its own assets, but will no longer claim to be Roman Catholic.

In a joint statement, the archdiocese said it will dismiss its appeal and that the judgment of the trial court is final. St. Louis Circuit Court Judge Bryan Hettenbach affirmed St. Stanislaus' ownership of its property in March last year.

St. Stanislaus agreed to abstain from representing itself as affiliated with the Roman Catholic Church. No money changed hands. Attorneys told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that the rest of the agreement was confidential.

The battle between the archdiocese and St. Stanislaus lasted for a decade. It centered on a 19th-century agreement that allowed the parish to govern its own finances, with a lay board in control of the church's money and the archbishop appointing the board and pastor.

In 2001 and 2004, changes in the church's bylaws essentially eliminated the authority of the archbishop over church decisions. The former archbishop excommunicated the parish's board members and priest in 2005, but as many as 2,000 parishioners responded by attending a Christmas Eve Mass at the church.

After years of wrangling, the archdiocese sued St. Stanislaus in 2008 to regain control of St. Stanislaus' property. The church is run as a nonprofit corporation by its parishioners.

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