St. Louis University Basketball Coach Responds to Abortion Comment Fallout

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jan 24, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

St. Louis University Basketball Coach Responds to Abortion Comment Fallout Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
January 24,

St. Louis, MO ( — The coach of the St. Louis University basketball team says he’s shocked at the national attention he’s received for the pro-abortion comments he made at a rally for pro-abortion presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Rick Majerus has come under fire from Catholic officials for defying the Church’s pro-life views.

"I’m pro-choice personally. I believe that’s the province of being a woman,” Majerus said earlier this week about his position in favor of abortion.

Saint Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke condemned the comments and said Majerus is doing the Catholic university a disservice by speaking out against a prominent Catholic teaching.

Majerus told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch Thursday that he can’t believe the condemnation he’s received, including Burke’s saying he should be denied communion.

"I’m very respectful to the archbishop, but I rely on my value judgments, thanks to my education at Marquette, which is a Jesuit institution, just like St. Louis," he said.

"That Jesuit education led me to believe that I can make a value judgment. And my value judgment happens to differ from the archbishop’s," Majerus told the newspaper.

"I do not speak for the university or the Catholic Church. These are my personal views. And I’m not letting him change my mind," he added.

Burke has said the university should discipline Majerus, but college officials have said he isn’t speaking for the educational institution and that his views are his own.

"It’s not possible to be a Catholic and hold those positions," Burke said after hearing what Majerus 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 Cardinal Newman Society, a pro-life group that holds Catholic colleges accountable to Church teaching, is behind Burke.

“We are grateful to Archbishop Burke for his example and leadership,” Patrick Reilly, the group’s president, told

“His call for disciplinary action is entirely consistent with Vatican principles for Catholic universities. Sadly, St. Louis University has repeatedly violated those principles," Reilly said.

Reilly pointed to the Vatican’s apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesi, which requires that "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.

Majerus also added in his original remarks that he favors embryonic stem cell research, that involves the destruction of human life and has never helped patients.

He is a long-time abortion advocate and political activist and he campaigned for pro-abortion presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004.