Imagine my shock. I came across an AP article in the Philadelphia Inquirer on Archbishop Burke. I was taken aback by the title of the piece “A vocal, steadfast defender of the faith”. Well, that is not a bad title but I was sure that the rest of the article would be just another hit piece as we have come to expect. I was wrong.

The article starts out in typical fashion listing the ‘controversies’ that Archbishop Burke has been involved in. But then it veers into to new territory. The reporter, Betsy Taylor, actually solicits and prints quotes from the Archbishop explaining his position.

“I know I have to teach. I know I have to be clear about the church’s position,” Burke said. “If that means that national media takes an interest in it, then that’s something that I have to accept. But that’s certainly not my object in my activity.”

“The most pressing issue is the secularization in society,” Burke said. “The church finds herself more and more in a prophetic role of calling into question trends in society, for instance, practices like widespread procured abortion and now, human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research.”

Burke said he had been surprised by the strong reaction to his declarations. Kerry has said he shares the church’s opposition to abortion, but did not feel it was appropriate to legislate personal religious beliefs.

But Burke said, “To me, it didn’t seem like anything very radical to say that a Roman Catholic who persists in a public way in fostering legislation that permits procured abortion should be denied Communion.

“The church in her whole history has always understood this: that if you publicly persist in a gravely sinful act, that you should not present yourself for Holy Communion, and if you do, because of the public nature of it, you should be told not to.”

The reporter even managed to find a supporter which is something previous reporters could not seem to do.

Waiting for a weekday Mass to begin at the Cathedral Basilica, the crown jewel of St. Louis’ Catholic churches, Bryanne Whitney, 22, said there is much more to Burke than his statements that brush up against politics and pop culture. He calls on Catholics to strengthen their faith, to listen to God and follow the path God has set out for them, she said.
“I think he’s on the straight and narrow,” she said. “He’s consistent, and he upholds the church’s teachings.”

The article also quotes some of his critics, notably Rev. Marek Bozek who the Archbishop excommunicated over the controversy surrounding St. Stanislaus Kostka parish. However, even Bozek stated that the Archbishop “Bozek said the archbishop is a good man, but inflexible”
The piece then wraps up with a quote from the Archbishop:

“You cannot be a good Catholic and be in favor of procured abortion or be in favor of embryonic stem-cell research,” he said. “It’s just not possible, and so if by teaching what the church teaches, people see that as polarizing, I think they are mistaken.”

All in all, amazing. An AP reporter concerned with presenting both sides of an argument who takes the time to seek balance. Well done Betsy Taylor.