In following the resignation of Archbishop Burke from the Cardinal Glennon Hospital Board, the media is quick to conflate several issues, some of which are not relevant to the Archbishop’s decision, and then, in typical style, to get most of it wrong.
Welcome to the reality of modern news production.
What is really important in the eyes of the press, when covering a “newsworthy” event, is to accomplish one of two goals. One of these possible goals is to create controversy in order to sell their product. Or, secondly, to tear down the “establishment” that opposes their agenda, whether that establishment be political, ecclesiastical, moral or commercial.When they can produce news stories that accomplish both goals, it makes their day.
Such is the case here. And this is why the Archbishop’s actions are so necessary.
First, we must be careful to distinguish between the moral decision facing His Grace, the moral decision of the other Board members who ignored his objections, and the moral decision facing a layperson who is deciding to attend the event, or otherwise donate funds to the Hospital.
All three, of course, are moral decisions, but they are different.
First decision, that of His Grace: the Archbishop is the local ordinary. He is the spiritual leader of the Archdiocese and the official head of the Board for the hospital. The teaching of the Church regarding abortion, cloning and embryonic stem cell research could not be any clearer. The position of Miss Crow is diametrically opposed to the Catholic Church on all of these issues. Her position is not merely her private opinion, but instead is a very public one. She uses, and has used her considerable popularity to increase the opposition to the Church on all of these issues.
If the Archbishop allows the Board to stand by the invitation for Miss Crow to perform at a benefit for an ostensibly Catholic children’s hospital, what statement does he make with his actions? I mean, this is kindergarten stuff– two wrongs don’t make a right. High school ethics– the end does not justify the means. If this concert were to go on with no word of protest by the Archbishop, the message to Catholics is this: we don’t really care about the babies killed by abortion and stem cell research, as long as there is money in it f0r some of our charitable institutions. We are hypocrites.
In short: rank, public scandal and confusion for the faithful under his charge. What really floors me is why this reasoning is not patently obvious to anyone, or at least to any Catholic.
Second decision, that of the Board: what kind of Catholic institution does not obey (yes, I said obey) their local ordinary, when the decision of that ordinary is not causing one to sin? Was Archbishop Burke’s request to disinvite Miss Crow a bad decision (of course I don’t think so) in their minds? Maybe. But no one is insinuating that it would have been a sin to listen to him. But no, fear of public scorn, desire for greater funds to be raised, and perhaps a case of being star-struck was more important to them.
So, they blame the Archbishop for trying to make a “political statement.” It would be funny if it weren’t so sad. And, perhaps most disappointingly, the board hides behind the “oh, it is all for the poor children” angle. All the while casting their lot with a woman who advocates the destruction of the youngest of our children.
Third decision, ours: those who have supported, or desire to support Cardinal Glennon Hospital, do so because of the truly amazing, important and wonderful work they do for suffering children. Obviously, a laudable goal, and the quality of the hospital is first rate. The decision to contribute to it is a different decision than that of the Archbishop to resign from the board. There is no public scandal involved here. Our contribution does not have to be motivated by Miss Crow; in fact, in can be in spite of it.
I think a reasonable moral argument can be made in favor of, and in opposition to, continued financial support. In fact, I invite any of my readers, especially those priests who may read, to comment on this question. To support the Archbishop’s principled stand, I am choosing to withhold funds until the Board publicly disavows their actions. But others may choose a different course.
What is a different story, for us, is whether it is acceptable to attend this particular event with this particular performer supported by this particular Board. To attend is to lend support to the decision of that Board to bring in Crow, despite her notoriety, and to disobey and disrespect our beloved Archbishop. That is the relevant question to run through our consciences. It seems like an easy decision to me.
What the Archbishop has done is to lead– he has publicly witnessed for Christ and His Church about the evils of the culture of death.
Pius XI once stated that it was good that we lived in such troubling times because “it is no longer permitted that anyone be mediocre.” We certainly do not have a mediocre Bishop. He deserves a better than mediocre flock.