By Peter Slevin Washington Post Staff Writer Tuesday, May 29, 2007;
Burke memorably declared that he would deny Communion to Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) because the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee supports abortion rights. He fought unsuccessfully to keep singer Sheryl Crow, who supports embryonic stem cell research, from headlining an April fundraiser for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, then resigned from the hospital foundation's board in protest.
Just this month, his office pushed St. Joseph's Academy, a Catholic high school, to renege on its invitation to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) to deliver this year's commencement address because of her abortion-rights position, even though McCaskill's daughter was in the graduating class. McCaskill was uninvited. McCaskill was uninvited by the School-- the only correct thing the school did in the whole affair. They should at least be given some credit for obeying the wishes of their local ordinary, unlike the arrogant board of the Cardinal Glennon Foundation.
At a time when significant segments of the Catholic population are breaking with the church on such issues as embryonic stem cell research and abortion, Burke is adhering to Vatican orthodoxy endorsed by Pope Benedict XVI -- and he expects the same of all Catholics in his archdiocese. This is a very dismissive way of saying, "Burke is a Catholic Bishop who does his job."
He tells his critics that he has "no agenda but the church." He tells his critics this? Or it is just a fact?
"He sees himself as being obliged to do what he thinks is the right thing, and he's not too concerned with strategy or how he might finesse the thing," Hitchcock said. "There are quite obviously deep divisions within the church. Archbishop Burke is one bishop who has chosen to confront them directly, as opposed to other bishops who may prefer to minimize them." One might say that St. John Fisher filled this role when other English Bishops of the time were more "pastoral".
Following the dispute over Crow and the hospital benefit, Geri Redden, who describes herself as a pro-choice former Catholic, said she considers Burke "archaic and kind of an embarrassment. He seems to think he is back in the old days when he could really tell people how to live their lives." What is it about anti-Catholics and "progressive Catholics" that they frame everything in terms of time? Always the criticism is that the faithful Catholic is stuck in the "past", or is medieval, or such rot. Just as the Pope "seeks to turn back the clock" by enlarging the availability of the Traditional Mass.
Burke, 58, is a canon specialist who warns that Harry Potter books are "irreligious." He took a strong stand last year against a Missouri constitutional amendment designed to protect embryonic stem cell research, a high-profile political fight that pitted social conservatives against the likes of Crow, actor Michael J. Fox and former senator John C. Danforth (R-Mo.). He called it a moral crisis for Missouri and said taxpayer money would be spent on "intrinsically immoral research." As has been, and is being, proven.
"From his point of view, we are nonexistent," said the Rev. Marek Bozek, the church's pastor. "I find it wrong to perceive the world in white and black colors only. Unfortunately, he does. And we are wondering why the church is losing its people?" I am embarrassed that a Catholic priest would be allowed to be quoted saying these things.
"From the purely pastoral point of view, it's been nothing but good for us," Bozek said. "It has revitalized the parish. We are growing because people can't stand this any longer." I know (in other contexts) people who were, until very recently, parishioners of St. Stanislaus. They stuck with the Board for a good while, after the Board's intransigence caused themselves to be excommunicated latae sententiae. They have seen the fruits of disobedience, and tell me that the place is the home of every type of dissenter and that the "unifying" factor among the people there is no longer Polish heritage, but rather dissent from Church teaching. In short, it is home of "progressives", many of whom are not of Polish dissent. If this is the type of growth to which the excommunicated leadership points, it can have it.