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It was so close and so real.” Politics was becoming real too: The Solidarity movement was underway, and when Bozek learned that the first free election would be held, he walked to the party headquarters clutching his school transcript and Boy Scout certificates and begged to help.In the dark of night, he and his friends put up posters, got chased by cops. “ Teenagers love to do things that are forbidden, and fortunately these were good things that were forbidden!All he wanted, he says, was to provide the sacraments for a group of proud Catholic Poles, whose parish he believed had been unjustly suppressed.In an unusual arrangement dating back 200 years, St.A parish once regionally noted for little more than polka Masses and Polish dinners was fast becoming for his supporters a national symbol of a progressive vision of church -- one in which, among other things, the laity controls the assets and keeps the books. Fortified with evidence of Bozek’s role, Burke summoned him under a “canonical admonition” to a Feb. Outwardly calm, Bozek admits that his blood pressure has shot through the roof. ” What keeps him going, he adds, is the solid support of his parishioners, who gave him an overwhelming vote of confidence the weekend before the hearing. Louis, from Springfield, from around the United States and from Poland -- support him too, some describing him as a hero.This past November, Bozek carried that vision to a new level, provoking Burke again, by donning vestments and laying hands of blessing on two women being ordained by Roman Catholic Women Priests, putting him once again outside the church’s canon law. But, warns Burke, who has made several public statements on the matter, those who receive sacraments from the disobedient priest are risking their immortal souls. Does he relish the idea of falling on his sword in a grand masochistic gesture?Bozek, then 29 and a native of Poland, hoped to remain in St. He found it outrageous that, as he saw it, people would be denied sacraments in a worldly struggle over money.Louis just long enough to effect a compromise, perhaps a year or two. Bozek went anyway, in violation of his priestly vow of obedience to his bishop, and was immediately suspended. Burke, who says the issue is obedience, not money, acted swiftly.

“ You want to experience.” The experiences that strung together his first years of life were joyful ones, of God, family and nature intertwined.“ Original,” his superior said thoughtfully. “ Let’s try it.” But as Bozek continued to read widely and express challenging opinions, “both my superiors and I realized I was moving outside the religious-order brackets,” he says, “and we had an amicable divorce.” He switched to a diocesan seminary and became president of the school body within a year. “ We know you are homosexual; we know you are living a promiscuous lifestyle,” the vice rector told him. He received a letter of recommendation, written in English -- allowing him to venture beyond Poland, where the post-communist church was seemingly growing more conservative by the day.He considered many places, settling finally on Springfield, after a friend told him he’d met a great bishop there. His family flew from Poland, and the following week they all drove to the only Polish parish in the region, St. Louis, so he could celebrate his first Mass in his native tongue. His own Polish people were being denied the sacraments in what -- a conflict over worldly goods? There is no more simple and direct order in the Gospel than ‘ Feed my sheep.’ And now the sacrament has become part of the game.” When Bozek reached St.Anthony de Mello’s mixture of Catholicism and Eastern wisdom, and it penetrated his soul. The next day, several other students were dismissed in what Bozek describes as “a witch-hunt,” but he persisted in efforts to preserve his good name.He found a platform in theater and wrote a controversial play about the last days of Jesus in which the arrogant Pharisees and high priests were modern-day clergy. “ There was resentment and rumors started.” One day he came back from an international ecumenical conference and was told his seminary days were over. He threatened to sue if the slander continued, and suddenly the tone changed.

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