Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Public Morality closer to home

Writing on matters I addressed in my previous two posts, I turn to Rocco over at Whispers, who reports on Archbishop Burke of St. Louis taking a very public stand against a Catholic medical center in his archdiocese hosting a fund raising event featuring Sheryl Crow, a well-known proponent of abortion and, being a native Missourian, a person who lent her support to an initiative on last year's ballot in Missouri, allowing human cloning and fetal stem cell research. Bringing up a point too often forgotten, the archbishop writes: "When, for economic gain, a Catholic institution associates itself with such a high profile proponent of the destruction of innocent lives, members of the Church and other people of good will have the right to be confirmed in their commitment to the Gospel of Life." Being concerned about safeguarding, rather than scandalizing the faithful seems to be a concern often forgotten these daze (misspelling intentional and emboldening and underling of Archbishop Burke's remarks are mine).

Another perspective comes from a brilliant canonist's blog, Dr. Edward Peters' In Light of the Law. The post, which does not bear directly on the CIC, is entitled Abp Raymond Burke and Cardinal Glennon Hospital.


  1. Crow giving her time and talent to this cause is no more an endorsement of abortion by Glennon Hospital than Burke is endorsing racism by being on the Board of an institution named for his segregationist predecessor.

    There is no sin for Ms. Crow to donate her time at her profession to help the mission of Glennon Hospital. There is no sin in accepting her donation. Accepting a donation, be it from the trade or craft of a carpenter, singer, plumber, accountant, proofreader or hodcarrier is not a sin even if the persons in question are (as it will always be as we all are) sinners.

    We all know the Scripture about the Good Samaritan. By God’s grace (I believe) in the time of Cardinal Ritter of St. Louis (of blessed memory) this passage was often used in preaching against the grave sin of racism. All well and good. However, the Samaritans were not really racially distinct from the other Hebrews. The Jews disliked them because they were heretics. They rejected part of the revelation that God had given to the Jewish people at that time. Christ did not counsel us to refuse the aid of the Samaritan, nor should we refuse Ms. Crow making a contribution to this pro-life ministry.

  2. I fail to see the parallel with either the parable of the Good Samaritan or with Archbishop Burke's sitting on the board of a hospital named after one of his predecessors. Such logic even implies that Ms. Crow harbors racist sympathies, which I am certain she does not. Therefore, the point about Cardinal Glennon's support of segregation is a classic red-herring. Suffice it say that Archbishop Burke is not a proponent of racism in any form, to include segregation. The issue at hand is Sheryl Crow’s very public and vocal support of abortion and embryonic stem cell research, not to mention her views on saving the environment by altering our bathroom hygiene habits in a most improbable way.

    The Samaritan was a Samaritan and, as such, he was racially, religiously, and, to some extent, linguistically different from the Jews. This distinctiveness, this otherness, is central to the meaning of this beautiful parable. The point of Jesus' story is that every human being, even those different from me, is my neighbor. This is the revolutionary nature of Jesus' teaching on this point of the Law. The commandment to love one's neighbor is in the Law. However, neighbor was limited to the people of the Covenant, to one's fellow Jews. Ms. Crow differs from the Good Samaritan insofar as she has chosen her positions on abortion, embryonic stem cell research, and bathroom hygiene. As choices, her positions can and should be changed.

    Of course, Ms. Crow is our neighbor. She certainly deserves credit for being willing to give her valuable time and considerable talent to raise money for the medical center. Calling on her to bring her views in line with objective morality is an act of charity on the part of the archbishop. The responsibility for this public spat does not lie with her, or with Archbishop Burke. The responsibility rests with the event organizers, who were informed privately by Archbishop Burke, that Ms. Crow's appearance, due to her very public and vocal commitment to keeping abortion legal and making embryonic stem cell extraction more widespread, would be a cause for public scandal, especially in light of her public and vocal support for last year's referendum. If the difference between Sheryl Crow, a hod-carrier, a carpenter, an accountant, or a plumber cannot be seen, then a logical argument cannot be made.


A political non-rant

In the wake of yesterday's Helsinki press conference, which, like a lot of my fellow U.S. citizens, as well as many people abroad, left ...