Archdiocese critical of another charity group

Saturday, April 28, 2007

ST. LOUIS -- Archbishop Raymond Burke approved a letter that criticized a charity for supporting Planned Parenthood and stem-cell research just weeks before he resigned from the board of a second charity for similar reasons, the Archdiocese of St. Louis confirmed Friday.

Burke made headlines Wednesday when he announced his resignation as chairman of the board of directors for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation, saying he couldn't tolerate the foundation's decision to let abortion rights advocate Sheryl Crow headline a benefit concert tonight.

The archdiocese said that in late March, Burke approved a memo criticizing the group Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a national organization dedicated to breast cancer awareness, fundraising and research.

The memo said the archdiocese could not endorse the group because it gave financial grants to Planned Parenthood, supports embryonic stem-cell research and has dismissed a link between abortions and incidents of breast cancer.

"Our hope is that the Komen Foundation will focus all funds on research to find causes and cures for breast cancer and refuse to give financial or other support to any abortion provider or organization that promotes the destruction of human life," the memo said.

On April 4, the archdiocese sent a letter to St. Louis Catholic schools that echoed that criticism. The letter said schools should be aware of the archdiocese's position as they plan charity events, and suggested they direct donations to Catholic hospitals that do breast cancer research.

The St. Louis chapter of the Susan G. Komen group has never funded Planned Parenthood, spokeswoman Susie Knopf said.

"The common thread to the individuals served by Komen for the Cure is that they are at risk for breast cancer. Komen does not provide any funding for abortions or for any activities outside the scope of our mission," Knopf said in a statement.

She disputed the claim that the charity supports embryonic stem-cell research.

"Komen has not funded any grants involving human embryonic stem-cell tissue, but has funded grants involving adult stem cells. Whether embryonic stem cells will have a role or be of value in the fight against breast cancer has not been clearly determined," the statement said.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Anne Steffens said the letter sent to Catholic schools was only meant to clarify the church's position.

"It wasn't in any way telling them what they can or cannot do," Steffens said.

Steffens said the archdiocese has received about 500 e-mails about Burke's criticism of Sher-yl Crow. She said more than 400 of them supported Burke.

Allen Allred, who organized the 19th annual benefit concert, said more than 3,500 of the 4,300 tickets have been sold for the event.

"I think we'll have a sellout," he said.

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