Archbishop Raymond Burke of St Louis, former Bishop of LaCrosse, is having a problem with his famous Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children. They have engaged notorious abortion advocate (and singer), Sheryl Crow, for a fundraiser for the hospital.
Archbishop Burke warned them that it was not appropriate for them to use her as a fundraising attraction, and when nothing happened, he resigned as Chairman of the Board of the Hospital. The reaction of the hospital's staff is no to change anything "because we don't want to be too political."
As shepherd of the local Church, Archbishop Raymond L. Burke said it is necessary for him to publicly address a "contradictory message" associated with an upcoming benefit for SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center.
The archbishop held an April 25 press conference at the archdiocesan Chancery offices in the Central West End to speak about his concern that rock musician Sheryl Crow will be featured at the annual Bob Costas Benefit this weekend. Proceeds benefit the Catholic medical center.
At the same time, the archbishop reiterated his continued support for the work of the medical center, which was founded in 1956 with the support of the archdiocese.
A native of Kennett, Mo., Crow has been an outspoken supporter of keeping abortion legal. She also supported Amendment 2, a Missouri initiative passed last fall that constitutionally protects human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research.
Because of Crow’s connection to the benefit event, however, the archbishop spoke of his desire to "avoid and repair" the issue of scandal
"The Church can never give the impression for any reason that it’s acceptable to take innocent human lives through abortion or embryonic stem-cell research," he said.
"That’s the contradictory message that’s given by having Sheryl Crow, who is public and active in her support of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, associated with a Catholic hospital."
In an interview with the Review prior to the press conference, the archbishop said he also had submitted his resignation earlier this week as chairman of the board of governors of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, the benefit’s sponsor and fund-raising arm of the medical center.
The archbishop also has requested that the foundation amend its bylaws to release him as a member of the board. He also has asked that his name be removed from any materials promoting the upcoming benefit.
The archbishop again stressed that his concern with the benefit has no association with the "goodness of the apostolate, which the medical center is carrying out." He added that the Church is not condemning anyone over the matter, either.
"It grieves me very much to have to take the action, because I have such high regard for Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center," he said. "It’s not a question of my support of the children’s medical center and its apostolate."
The archbishop noted he has had a chance to visit the medical center on several occasions to meet children receiving treatment. He participated in last year’s 50th anniversary celebrations, during which he "expressed my esteem for the staff ... and of course my great care and concern for the children who are treated there."
The archbishop also collaborated with the medical center last year to produce a video on the St. Louis Cord Blood Bank, which is the second-largest independent cord blood bank in the world and sits on the medical center’s campus. The facility offers umbilical cord blood for adult stem-cell treatments, which the Church supports.
Last fall, Crow was featured in a television advertisement that supported Amendment 2. She also has been a public advocate of keeping abortion legal for women and continues to speak on behalf of legislation in support of abortion and embryonic stem-cell research.
"When there is a significant risk that others could be led to evil, as the one responsible for the spiritual and moral well-being of the faithful entrusted to my pastoral care, I am obliged in justice to act," the archbishop said.
Archbishop Burke said it came to his attention less than two months ago that Crow was going to be featured at the benefit event. He wrote to Doug Ries, president of the medical center, who referred him to Edward Higgins, president of the board of governors for the foundation.
After several rounds of communication, members of the foundation’s executive committee ultimately decided "they were not convinced that having her perform at this fund-raising event called into question ... the Catholic identity of the medical center," Archbishop Burke said.
Therefore, he said, he must resign from the board and speak publicly on the issue because of his role as a Church leader and the gravity of the situation.
"If I, as archbishop of St. Louis, were simply to let this pass, it would give people the impression that as long as the purpose is to raise money, you can associate with people, even feature people, who are public proponents of the killing of unborn children and embryonic human life."
"It is bad, when any of the flock leads another one into confusion or leads them astray," he said. "But it’s especially harmful when it’s the shepherd of the flock himself — either through silence or through some action that causes people to go into error."
The archbishop also addressed the issue of those who already have bought tickets for the benefit concert. He explained that it is "commendable" to show support for the medical center. He further explained that it is the responsibility for the board of governors and others who lead the medical center to make sure fund-raising events are consistent with its Catholic identity and its mission. St Louis Review (Diocesan Newspaper)
Canon Lawyer Ed Peters, a native of St Louis, formerly in Duluth and now in Detroit, has this to say about these recent activities in his hometown:
While it's not exactly a canon law story, I want to comment on a decision by a justly-renowned canonist in my beloved home town of St. Louis, Missouri, a decision that is going to upset a lot of people. I refer to Abp. Raymond Burke's resignation from the chairmanship of a major fund-raising event for Cardinal Glennon Hospital for Children.
St. Louisans know how blessed they are to have a famous institution like Cardinal Glennon in their city. St. Louis Catholics in particular have long taken a special pride in the work done there, largely with their support, over the decades.
What astounds me is that the directors of a fund-raiser for a venerable institution for children could have been so clueless as to invite Sheryl Crow, a notorious abortion advocate, to headline their event; worse, the directors were so willful as to reject what were obviously many private entreaties by their chairman Abp. Burke to drop the mad idea before it all blew up in their face.
So now, it's blown. How sad. All the sadder for having been so easily avoidable.
But you know, I've seen this happen before: Catholic movers and shakers, flush with their own funds or with easy access to others', too often measure success in philanthropic undertakings in terms of media splash, dollars donated, and the number of glitteratti chatting around banquet tables, while they completely forget the fundamental religious, and even the human, values that make their efforts worthwhile in the first place. This time, even the clear words of a very thoughtful archbishop could not pierce the commotion which the organizers of this event confused for progress.
Abp. Burke extended a special word of solicitude for the staff and supporters of Cardinal Glennon Hospital, so many of whom were doubtless appalled at the "headliner" being thrust upon them. I'm sure many people join the archbishop in those sentiments.
But I do think it's high time for some folks who want, probably sincerely, to help the Church and her numerous apostolates, to stop assuming that they always know best how to do that. In the Light of the Law
Father Jonathan, Catholic priest and media personality on Fox News, classified this as "Ideological Tribalism:"
More than once in this space, I have bemoaned what I see as a national march toward ideological tribalism. It is the splintering of our citizenry into subsets of people who identify themselves completely with one or another social or political agenda, while refusing or being unable to dialogue reasonably with outsiders.
The face of this tribalism is superficial discourse and its root, in my opinion, is bad philosophy. Our postmodern world view tells us the only thing we can know for certain is that nothing is necessarily true.
Ironically, this new philosophy has pushed us into the very dogmatism it is trying so hard to avoid. Its proponents say moral absolutes don’t exist and anyone who believes otherwise is absolutely wrong. The result is intellectual intransigence of the worst kind.
This morning, I saw in the papers of what I consider a shining example of tribal mentality. So perfect was the picture, so important the point, it made me postpone my original plan to comment on your reactions to my recent article on immigration reform.
Raymond Burke, the archbishop of St. Louis, Mo., resigned yesterday as chairman of the board of Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation. He severed ties with the board after the foundation dismissed his concerns over their invitation to Sheryl Crow to be a featured entertainer at their benefit event. Ms. Crow is an outspoken supporter of abortion and a public advocate for embryonic stem cell research.
Her positions are well known to Missourians as she appeared in television advertisements last year asking voters to approve an initiative that enshrined the right to conduct all forms of stem cell research, including human cloning, in the state constitution.
I can think of no more perfectly predictable and logical scenario than a Catholic archbishop having concerns about featuring someone at his own Catholic event who publicly and locally advocates against core Catholic teaching.
In a less tribal America, even people who disagreed with the Catholic position on abortion would see the logic and rectitude of Archbishop Burke’s stance and subsequent action. He is saying a Catholic institution should be Catholic and if it refuses to be, in good conscience, he cannot allow his own involvement to give it a false stamp of legitimacy.
It seems that kind of logic is too clear for postmodern minds.
Event organizer Allen Allread told the Associated Press that the other board members did not honor Burke's request “because they did not want to play politics with performers at the annual event”.
"This is not an event that's about ideology; this is about helping kids," he said.
Bob Costas, a prominent television sportscaster and host of the event, released this statement: "I have never applied a litmus test, Catholic or otherwise, concerning the politics or religious beliefs of any of the generous performers who have come to St. Louis to help this worthy cause, nor do I intend to.”
The implication here is that the Catholic board should have no moral criterion for who they will feature at their events.
Archbishop Burke is not policing Sheryl Crow’s personal views. He is saying that because she has chosen to be a very public advocate against Church teaching in his Archdiocese, her platform should not be a Catholic event, run by a Catholic foundation, for a Catholic hospital … all of which he oversees as pastor.
Am I missing something? Why is this so hard to understand?
I think it has a lot to do with our national march toward ideological tribalism, the loss of reasonable discourse. FoxNews
When Archbishop Burke first arrived in St Louis, he quickly became embroiled with the trustees of a Polish parish over ownership of the structure and control of funds. The issue had been simmering for a long time and finally when Archbishop Burke demanded that Church law be obeyed, the result was a schism where many of the members of that parish left for another, dissident, parish and engaged a priest from Poland whose credentials and behavior appear to be suspect.