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Archbishop Raymond Burke and Sheryl Crow

April 26, 2007

I did not see any other Catholic blog posting this story, so I suppose I will.

Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis (my former archbishop) has submitted his resignation as chairman of the board for one of St. Louis’ most prominent Catholic charities, the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. His reason? The charity is permitting Sheryl Crow, who has been outspokenly pro-abortion, to perform this Saturday at one of its benefits. Burke asserted: “A Catholic institution featuring a performer who promotes moral evil gives the impression that the church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching.”

Will the resignation restore confidence in the Church’s moral position on abortion? Will the resignation do more harm than good by damaging the mission of Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation? Does an artist’s moral convictions (or lack there of) preclude the rectitude of a Catholic charity featuring that artist’s craft in charitable events? Should Catholics take it another step further and boycott the movies, concerts, albums or exhibits of all pro-abortion artists? Does the good that a pro-abortion artist does at such a benefit count for nothing, even if no mention of moral evil is made? I ask these questions without rhetorical intent. You make the call.

The one thing that is certain from my viewpoint is that Archbishop Burke did the right thing insofar as he followed his conscience, which has been no doubt formed well by his pastoral experience and theological training. He rightly sees himself as gravely responsible for his flock and holds himself accountable in light of inevitable divine judgment.

Here’s the full story from FoxNews:

ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke denounced a Catholic charity for scheduling singer Sheryl Crow to perform at a benefit concert because of the singer’s support for abortion rights.

Burke submitted his resignation as chairman of the board for the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation, saying the decision to let Crow sing on Saturday left him no other choice.
“It’s very painful for me,” Burke said during a news conference Wednesday. “But I have to answer to God for the responsibility I have as archbishop.

“A Catholic institution featuring a performer who promotes moral evil gives the impression that the church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching,” Burke said.

Crow is set to appear at the 19th annual benefit for the Bob Costas Cancer Center at Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center. Costas will host the event, which will also feature comedian Billy Crystal.

Event organizer Allen Allred said he was disappointed with Burke’s decision, but that Crow would appear as scheduled.

“This is not an event that’s about ideology,” Allred said. “This is about helping kids.”

Burke made national news during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign, by saying he would deny Communion to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.

He later clarified the statement to say Catholics can vote for such candidates if they believe the candidate’s stance on other moral issues outweighs the abortion-rights stance.

Burke said it was a “scandal” to let Crow sing at the event and amounted to an act that could lead others to evil. He cited Crow’s support for stem cell research and “procured abortion.”
Burke said he became aware of Crow’s participation in the cancer benefit in February and asked other board members to cancel her appearance.

“They didn’t accept my concerns,” Burke said.

Allred said board members did not honor Burke’s request because they did not want to play politics with performers at the annual event.

Costas, a prominent TV sportscaster, released a statement supporting the board’s decision.
“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 …” Costas wrote

Criticism of the Catholic foundation is reminiscent of some earlier statements by Burke, who has been outspoken in his public condemnations of Roman Catholics who dissent from church teaching.

Crow appeared in television ads throughout Missouri last year asking voters to approve an initiative that enshrined the right to conduct stem cell research in the state constitution.
Crow’s publicist did not return a message seeking comment Wednesday.

I have had a number of opportunities to speak one-on-one with Archbishop Burke, and I think he is an example of moral plenitude and spiritual presence. He has done great things for the Archdiocese of St. Louis. I admire him as a man, as a Christian and as a shepherd. Yet, I am not sure how I feel about his resignation.

Update: FoxNews is now running the headline for this story on its homepage: “Archbishop slams Crow for Abortion Stance.” Slams Sheryl Crow? I didn’t see any direct criticism of Sheryl Crow. I’m not sure the archbishop even “slammed” the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation. Could this be partisan ideology on FoxNews’ part? I do recall something about a small confrontation between Crow and Karl Rove over global warming at the White House Correspondants’ Association dinner a few days ago…

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