In a news conference, Archbishop Raymond Burke announced that the April 28, 2007, Benefit for SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center requires him to address the issue of moral scandal out of respect for the good of the souls of others. The Benefit is organized by the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation. The management and the executives of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center are not responsible for planning the event. "As the shepherd of this Archdiocese, I am required to address an issue that could call into question in the minds of the faithful the commitment of the medical center and the Archdiocese to the cause of life."
"This Saturday, Sheryl Crow is scheduled to perform at the Bob Costas Benefit for the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. Ms. Crow is well-known as an abortion activist. She has lent her celebrity status to the promotion of legislation, such as Missouri's Amendment 2, that creates legal protection for human cloning and the destruction of human beings who are embryos. Her appearance at a fundraising event for Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center is an affront to the identity and mission of the medical center, dedicated as it is to the service of life and Christ's healing mission."
"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. Only after the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation informed me it would not address the issue did it become necessary that I carry out my pastoral responsibility to clarify the matter. Life is the most basic human good and the right to life of every innocent human being must be respected. The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of civil society and legislation. The Catholic Church consistently teaches that actions that result in the direct killing of the innocent, such as deliberate abortion and destruction of human embryos for research, are grave offenses against the right to life found in the natural law and Divine Revelation. 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."
The Archbishop has asked the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation to remove his name from any materials promoting the event, and has resigned as Chairman of the Board.
"This event was organized under the direction of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation, a fundraising organization for the children's medical center. I want to express my understanding and compassion for the members of the Board of Governors of the foundation who did not recognize the seriousness of this matter. I want to assure the management and employees of Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital of my continued admiration and support for the wonderful treatment provided at our excellent children's medical center. I cannot say enough about their commitment to the lives and health of the children they serve."
The Archdiocese founded the institute that is now sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Mary and is known as the SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. Over the past 10 years, the Archdiocese has contributed more than $3 million through the annual collection for the medical center and the Fleur de Lis Ball.
Questions and Answers
Q. What is the relationship between the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation?
A. The Archbishop of St. Louis is a member of the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation by virtue of his office according to the by-laws of the organization. The members elected Archbishop Burke Chairman of the Board. The Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation is a separate organization from SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Hospital. The Foundation is related to the medical center as a fundraising organization.
Q. Why is the Archbishop concerned about Sheryl Crow performing?
A. Sheryl Crow is an outspoken abortion advocate and campaigned for the passage of Amendment 2, which created the right to clone human beings and destroy human beings, as embryos, for research. She continues to speak on behalf of legislation in support of abortion and destructive embryonic stem cell research.
Her performance for the SSM Cardinal Glennon Medical Center is contrary to the identity and mission of the Catholic institution. In addition, the Church sees the action as giving scandal, which is defined as "an attitude or behavior which leads another to evil" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2284).
Scandal becomes a grave offense if the action leads another to commit a grave offense. Her performance will give the appearance that the Church is not consistent in its belief and practice for the protection of innocent human life.
According to the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, it is the responsibility of the Archbishop "to ensure the moral and religious identity of the health care ministry in whatever setting it is carried out in the (arch)diocese" (General Introduction).
Q. What is the Church's teaching on abortion?
A. "Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable" (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2271).
Q. What is the Church's teaching on embryonic stem cell research?
A. "It is immoral to produce human embryos intended for exploitation as disposable biological material." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2275) The production of stem cell lines using human embryos requires the destruction of the embryo, a violation of the moral law against killing the innocent.
Q. Since the performer is just singing and not promoting her beliefs, why don't we allow her to help raise money for a medical center that helps children with cancer?
A. Our judgment in the issue does not rest on the nature of the performer's beliefs, but on the public advocacy for actions which result in the deliberate killing of innocent human beings. The performer's appearance at an event whose principal purpose is to raise funds for a health care apostolate "guided by the moral tradition of the Church" (Ethical and Religious Directives, no. 1) casts doubt on the consistency of the commitment of the Church to the fundamental right to life. When that inconsistency occurs, the Church is required, through the Archbishop, to clarify or correct the misunderstanding out of respect for the spiritual well-being of the members of the Church and others. This is the motivation for his public statement.
Q. Why is the Archbishop coming out against it now?
A. As soon as he was made aware of this event, he began private conversations with the president of the Medical Center and the President of the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation. Only after the Board of Governors of the Foundation informed him they would not address the issue did it become necessary that he carry out his pastoral responsibility to communicate to the local Church and community about the matter.
Q. Will this position alienate Catholics?
A. By teaching the truth, the action taken by the Archbishop is meant to unify the faithful and preserve Communion with the universal Church. The Church's particular directives governing the administration of Catholic health care services state the Archbishop stands at the center of unity in the archdiocese and is coordinator of ministries in the local Church. It is his responsibility to address moral and pastoral matters in Catholic health care and assist Catholics in understanding the healing ministry of the Church (Ethical and Religious Directives, General Introduction).
Q. Why is the Archbishop withdrawing from the Board of Governors of the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation?
The Archbishop believes he cannot be publicly associated with the event taking place. He has made his objections known to the Board, and he feels by remaining as a member of the board, he would be lending his support to the event.
Q. What about the people who already bought tickets?
A. The desire to show support to the medical center is commendable. It is, in the first place, the responsibility of the Board of Governors and other responsible people in the medical center to make sure that fundraising events are consistent with the Catholic identity and mission of the institution.