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According to a story online on USAToday's site, the Associated Press wrote that a Roman Catholic archbishop said Tuesday that he will ask officials of Saint Louis University to take "appropriate action" against its basketball coach, who said in a television interview that he supports abortion rights.
One of the game's winningest coaches, Rick Majerus made the comment at a weekend rally for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Rodham Clinton.
St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke declined to say what the action against Majerus should be, saying that was a decision for the Jesuit university. But he said the coach is a leader and shouldn't support views in opposition to church teaching.
"I'm concerned that a leader at a Catholic university made these comments. It can lead Catholics astray," Burke said by telephone as he attended March for Life anti-abortion events in Washington. "I just believe that it's of the essence for people to understand as a Catholic you just cannot hold these beliefs."
Burke said he will seek to speak with university president Rev. Lawrence Biondi, or a representative, when he returns to St. Louis.
During an interview with KMOV-TV at Saturday's Clinton rally in suburban St. Louis, the first-year Billikens coach identified himself as a Catholic and called himself pro-choice. At first when asked for his views on abortion, he said he didn't want to "go there," but then said he is personally "pro-choice."
Saint Louis University spokesman Clayton Berry said Majerus was at the rally as an individual, not as a representative of the school.
Majerus has one of the best winning percentages among active college basketball coaches with a 432-154 career record. Most of those wins, and a 1998 Final Four appearance, came at the University of Utah, which he left in 2004 due to health concerns. Before taking the Saint Louis job he worked as an ESPN analyst, and accepted and quickly gave up the coaching job at Southern California.
Burke set off a national debate in 2004 when he said he would deny Holy Communion to John Kerry, then the Democratic presidential nominee, because the Catholic Massachusetts senator supports abortion rights.
The archbishop resigned last year as board chairman for the Cardinal Glennon Children's Foundation because of a benefit-concert appearance by Sheryl Crow, a native Missourian who supports abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research.
Saint Louis University is a Jesuit, Catholic university ranked among the top research institutions in the nation. The University fosters the intellectual and character development of more than 12,000 students on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain. Founded in 1818, it is the oldest university west of the Mississippi and the second oldest Jesuit university in the United States. Through teaching, research, health care and community service, Saint Louis University is the place where knowledge touches lives.
The St. Louis campus has been the site of the central administration since 1888, when the Jesuits moved the University from its original downtown campus. Several colleges and schools make up the University campus as well as the Medical Center.
The Madrid campus was established in 1969. The first freestanding campus operated by an American University in Europe, this campus is recognized by Spain's higher education authority as an official foreign university, the first U.S. institution to hold this endorsement. The school, whose nickname is the Billikens, is a member of the Atlantic 10 Conference. They are as of this writing 10-8 overall and 1-3 in A10 play and sit near the bottom of the league's standing. They next play LaSalle in Philadelphia this Saturday after coming off a 54-53 loss at home to Temple.