In the midst of all of the usual negative media coverage of the Archbishop, the Post-Dispatch published two commentaries– the first by Colleen Campbell (her photo), which was very supportive, and the second, by Charles Bouchard, O.P, reasonably so.

Here they are, beginning with Ms. Campbell’s:

Bishops have a right to speak out, too
Ever since Archbishop Raymond Burke resigned as board chairman of the Cardinal Glennon Children’s Foundation last week, he has been clobbered with criticism. Detractors have labeled him a bigot and bully, slammed him for mixing religion and politics, and accused him of allowing personal bias to trump concern for sick children. The proximate cause for Burke’s public lashing was his disapproval of the foundation’s choice of abortion-rights activist Sheryl Crow as the featured performer at its Catholic fundraiser. Burke had privately asked the board to replace Crow because her public support for abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research could confuse or scandalize Catholics. The board refused his request. So Burke resigned and held a news conference to distance himself and his Church from Crow’s views.Those views are well-documented. Crow is among the most strident and outspoken celebrity supporters of abortion rights and embryonic research. Whether headlining a Rock for Choice concert or the NOW-sponsored March for Women’s Lives, lobbying Iowa legislators to kill a cloning ban or urging Missouri voters to enshrine embryonic research and research cloning as constitutional rights, Crow frequently uses her fame to promote positions contrary to Catholic moral teachings. Crow has the right to her opinions. But it makes no more sense for Burke and the Catholic institutions he oversees to lend Crow a platform than for Planned Parenthood to appoint Burke emcee of its next Gala for Choice.

Some critics have argued that Burke had no business objecting to Crow because many Catholics disagree with his views on these issues. Yet Burke’s stance reflects more than his private opinion; it is also the official teaching of the Catholic Church. The Church holds that abortion is a serious moral evil because it destroys innocent human life, and it opposes embryonic stem cell research and cloning for the same reason. Church teaching insists that one must never cooperate in these acts or give even tacit approval to them. There are no exceptions allowed — not for socially conscious rock stars, not for fiscally conscious charity organizers, not even for bishops operating under the glare of media scrutiny. That glare can be intense and intimidating. Many religious leaders have learned that they receive more flattering press if they focus their political pronouncements on the fight against poverty or global warming and avoid issues such as abortion. Burke surely learned this lesson. The same critics who loudly told him to stay out of politics in 2004, when he criticized presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry’s views on abortion, voiced no such concern in 2005, when he protested Medicaid cuts. Today’s religious leaders increasingly face a double standard when it comes to their public pronouncements: They can say what they want as long as they express politically correct views or stay mum on hot-button social issues. This stifling of religious voices is intended to prevent religious conflicts in the public square. But it also prevents the most fundamental form of deliberation necessary to the functioning of a pluralistic democracy: honest debates about right and wrong, good and evil, truth and falsehood. Burke’s resignation from the foundation board clarified how seriously the Catholic Church takes its teaching about the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages. That teaching may not be popular or politically correct, but Burke has the right to defend it. To vilify him for speaking out because he wears a bishop’s mitre is the epitome of religious intolerance. Such intolerance should frighten religious believers and free speech defenders of all political persuasions.

Colleen Carroll Campbell is an author, TV host and St. Louis-based fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. Her website is


From Fr. Bouchard:

For a bishop, where you stand matters


At first glance, the Cardinal Glennon-Sheryl Crow dispute might look like a power struggle between a hospital and an archbishop. In fact, it raises two important moral principles that all of us have to wrestle with in the ordinary choices we make every day.

The first is scandal. When we describe something as “scandalous,” we usually mean shocking or disgraceful. A better understanding of the word is, as Archbishop Burke noted, to do something that leads another person into evil. Scandal is a “stumbling stone” — an action that gives respectability to moral wrong and leads me to make a bad choice. Individuals can cause scandal (e.g., by giving a bad example to a child or a subordinate). Corporate scandal is worse because corporations have more power, status and influence in society. It is worse still when it involves a faith-based corporation because these organizations have a religious mission and enjoy the public trust. We hold them and their leaders to a higher standard. They must assess their alliances very carefully to avoid even the appearance of wrongdoing or ethical carelessness.

The second principle is cooperation, which asks, “How close can I get to the evil action or intention of another before I get morally implicated myself?” The simplest case is the driver of the getaway car in a bank robbery. Is she morally complicit if she not only drives the car but plans the robbery as well? Surely. Is she morally involved if she drives the getaway car but thinks the robber is just cashing a paycheck? Perhaps not. If she just loans her car not knowing what it will be used for or the car is used without her permission? Probably not. In each case, my lack of knowledge or shared intent diminishes my moral responsibility.

As citizens, all of us are called to work together for the common good. If we participate in a pluralistic society, however, absolute moral purity is impossible. We will inevitably find ourselves working with folks whose beliefs we do not share. This doesn’t necessarily mean that we can’t work side by side with other volunteers on a Habitat for Humanity build who might hold views we consider to be immoral. Advertisement

May I contribute to an organization that supports two kinds of work, one morally good and the other morally objectionable, or see a movie produced by an anti-Semite, or buy a product made with child labor? Perhaps, but only if in my best judgment I can say that I do not share the intention of the evildoer and that I am not causing scandal by appearing to do so. Moral choices are rarely crystal clear. The Cardinal Glennon officials surely did not intend to endorse the performer’s views when they invited her, but many feel the connection was too close for comfort. As a church leader, the Archbishop was obliged to clarify his stance to avoid scandal. For the rest of us — individuals and institutions alike — this controversy provides an opportunity to examine what we choose, whom we cooperate with, and how our choices may influence others.

Charles E. Bouchard, O.P., is president of Aquinas Institute of Theology.