Raymond Burke, the right-wing Archbishop of St. Louis, has his undies in a bundle because Rick Majerus, St. Louis University's basketball coach, made comments favoring abortion rights in an off-campus campaign appearance with Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton where Majerus was interviewed by a local television station.
"It's not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said. "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 the identity and mission of the Catholic church."
The archbishop declined to offer specifics of what discipline Majerus, a former Marquette University basketball coach, should face.
"I'm confident it (the university) will deal with the question of a public representative making declarations that are inconsistent with the Catholic faith," he said.
St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, apparently isn't taking Burke's bait. A spokesman for the university, Jeff Fowler, said Majerus' comments were not related to his role at the university.
"Rick's comments were his own personal view. They were made at an event he did not attend as a university representative," Fowler said. "
It was his own personal visit to the rally. The comments were his, he was not speaking for the university," he added.
The university won a legal victory in a public financing case last year when the Missouri Supreme Court affirmed that it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.
While I think Burke is out of line in calling for Majerus to be disciplined by the university, I appreciate the underlying concern he voiced.
Nonetheless, universities -- including Catholic ones -- would be poorer places if academic freedom was suppressed.
At the end of the day, though, Burke needs to get a life. Rick Majerus is a basketball coach, not a theologian. Who cares what he thinks about abortion rights? (And why did the television interviewer even ask?)