Archbishop Burke Calls on Catholic University to Discipline Pro-Abortion Coach

ST. LOUIS, January 23, 2008 ( - On Tuesday, Archbishop Raymond Burke of St. Louis, Missouri, urged St. Louis University to discipline its basketball coach for public statements in support of abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

"I’m confident (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," Burke told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.  "When you take a position in a Catholic university, you don’t have to embrace everything the Catholic Church teaches. But you can’t make statements which call into question that identity and mission of the Catholic Church."

Coach Rick Majerus attended Tuesday’s St. Louis rally for presidential candidate Sen. Hillary Clinton and told television reporters that he advocates abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

St. Louis University president Rev. Lawrence Biondi, S.J., has shied away from reporters, but a university spokesman has said that Majerus was voicing personal views, and he would not confirm that any disciplinary action will be taken.

"We are grateful to Archbishop Burke for his example and leadership," said Patrick J. Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society.  "His call for disciplinary action is entirely consistent with Vatican principles for Catholic universities.  Sadly, St. Louis University has repeatedly violated those principles."

The Vatican’s apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, mandates: "Catholic members of the university community are also called to a personal fidelity to the Church with all that this implies.  Non-Catholic members are required to respect the Catholic character of the university, while the university in turn respects their religious liberty."

"Holding private views is one thing, publicly advocating them with the aim of transforming society and endorsing politicians is a much different matter," Reilly said.  "A Catholic university accepts the Catholic faith, and employees who publicly work against it have no claim to a paycheck largely funded by Catholic alumni and donors."

The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to renewing and strengthening Catholic identity at America’s 224 Catholic colleges and universities. The Society focuses its work on assisting students, alumni and school officials; urging fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church; and researching activities both on campus and in the classroom.

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