Burke quits charity board to protest rocker Sheryl Crow
St. Louis, MO – St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke has left the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation because of singer Sheryl Crow. Burke says he's against the charity's decision to book Crow for a fundraiser on Saturday because Crow supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.
Burke says that gives the impression the church is inconsistent in its teaching.
Crow, a native Missourian, last year appeared in TV ads to support a ballot question that would protect stem cell research in the state.
Burke says he asked other board members to cancel Crow when he found out she was slated to appear but they refused because they didn't want to make the event political.
"It's very painful for me," Burke said Wednesday. "But I have to answer to God for the responsibility I have as archbishop.
"A Catholic institution featuring a performer who promotes moral evil gives the impression that the church is somehow inconsistent in its teaching," Burke said.
Crow is set to appear at the 19th annual benefit for the Bob Costas Cancer Center at Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center. Costas will host the event, which will also feature comedian Billy Crystal.
Crow's publicist didn't return a message seeking comment Wednesday.
Event organizer Allen Allred said he was disappointed with Burke's decision, but that Crow would appear Saturday as scheduled. "This is not an event that's about ideology," Allred said. "This is about helping kids."
Burke said it was a "scandal" to let Crow sing at the event and amounted to an act that could lead others to evil. He cited Crow's support for stem cell research and "procured abortion."
Costas released a statement supporting the board's decision: "I have never applied a litmus test, Catholic or otherwise, concerning the politics or religious beliefs of any of the generous performers who have come to St. Louis to help this worthy cause, nor do I intend to."
Burke made national news during the 2004 U.S. presidential campaign by saying he would deny Communion to Democratic presidential nominee John Kerry, a Catholic who supports abortion rights.
He later clarified the statement to say Catholics can vote for such candidates if they believe the candidate's stance on other moral issues outweighs the abortion-rights stance.
Burke's move is getting praise from a group that backs the archbishop.
"Once again Archbishop Burke has courageously and correctly fulfilled the responsibilities of his position in the face of a particularly difficult controversy that will surely leave him open to criticism from anti-Catholics and those who do not understand the duties of a Catholic shepherd," said Bill McKenzie, coordinator the group Defenders of Archbishop Burke, in a statement.