Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Universal Utah

Rick Majerus went from the Land of Mormon Nutjobs to St. Louis, where the American Phalange has a strong presence. Or, from one Talibangelical center to another; the sects are different but the attitude's the same:

Archbishop says Majerus should be disciplined
By Deirdre Shesgreen and Tom Timmerman

St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke said this morning that St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus should be disciplined over his public comments supporting abortion rights and stem cell research.

Majerus made his comments at a campaign appearance for Hillary Rodham Clinton on Saturday night during an interview with KMOV (Channel 4).

During an interview with the Post-Dispatch today in Washington, where Burke is attending the March for Life, he said the coach should be disciplined.

"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 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."

Majerus made his comments to the TV station at the rally at McCluer North High School.

Burke declined to say if he thought Majerus should be fired, but added, "You can't have a Catholic university with one of its prominent staff making declarations" that are in conflict with the church.

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 in whatever comments he made to Channel 4."

Last year, St. Louis U. celebrated a legal victory that affirmed it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the school in handing down a decision that the city of St. Louis did not violate state and federal constitutions by granting the university $8 million in tax increment financing for its new arena.

Opponents of the $80 million arena sued the school in 2004, halting construction.

The Missouri Constitution prohibits public funding to support any "... college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever."

The debate came down to two words: "control" and "creed." Does the guiding mission of a Catholic university align with the specific system of religious faith espoused by the Catholic church? And if so, does that system of faith control the actions of the university?

In a 6-1 decision, the court said SLU "is not controlled by a religious creed."

Majerus, one of the winningest coaches in college basketball, was hired by SLU with much fanfare on April 30, 2007, as the school indicated an increased commitment to the program as it prepares to move into its new on-campus arena next season. Majerus is making $650,000 this year, a hefty sum by SLU standards.

His team, which has a record of 10-8, has struggled at times this season as it has made the transition to his style of play. SLU recently set an NCAA record by scoring just 20 points in a game against George Washington, the fewest points a Division I school has scored since the shot clock was installed in 1986. But a week later, SLU upset 23rd-ranked Rhode Island.