Archdiocese reiterates statement on Komen race

Barbara Briggs Morrow had a way of savoring life. Some of that positive attitude was developed through her work as an editor at Midwest Living magazine.

It also carried her through what was perhaps the toughest moment of her life, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Briggs Morrow lost her battle against cancer on Feb. 22 at the age of 56.

Linda Briggs-Harty recalled her sister as "an outstanding mother," a role that she balanced well with her career as a full-time editor. She also was a faith-filled woman who was very much at peace with her Catholic faith when she died, said Briggs-Harty. That was something Briggs-Harty was most proud of her sister.

So when Briggs-Harty was approached by a friend who invited her to participate in the annual Komen Race for the Cure in memory of her sister, she had to decline. It wasn't an easy decision, she said, but it stemmed from a concern she shares with many other Catholics -- Komen's support of Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion provider.

Briggs-Harty said that while she appreciated the invitation, "I really didn't feel like that was the gesture I wanted to make." She stressed that while the St. Louis Komen affiliate does not specifically provide funding to Planned Parenthood, the national Komen organization does.

"I just had a problem with the confusion that causes," she said.

Since 2006, the archdiocesan Respect Life Apostolate has provided a written position statement on the Komen organization. In the statement, the apostolate noted Komen's "beneficial work" in breast cancer awareness, research, treatment and prevention.

However, the archdiocese "neither supports nor encourages participation in activities that benefit Susan G. Komen for the Cure." because of the organization's policy allowing affiliates to offer financial support to abortion providing facilities, its denial of studies showing abortion as a possible link to breast cancer and its endorsement of embryonic stem-cell research.

Earlier this year, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization announced that it was pulling its support for Planned Parenthood. Several days after its initial announcement, the organization reversed its decision, noting that it would continue to fund grants to the nation's largest abortion provider.

Briggs-Harty said she believes there are other ways to promote breast cancer awareness. One such way is the annual healing Mass for those affected by breast cancer, to be held Saturday, June 23, at St. Mary Magdalen Parish in Brentwood. Briggs-Harty attended the Mass last year, while her sister was still fighting her illness, calling it a "positive approach" in supporting those affected by breast cancer.

Karen Nolkemper, director of the Respect Life Apostolate, said the idea is to surround with prayers those affected by breast cancer.

Breast cancer healing Mass

A healing Mass for those affected by breast cancer will be celebrated at 8 a.m. Saturday, June 23, at St. Mary Magdalen Church, 2618 Brentwood Blvd. in Brentwood.

Father Jack Siefert, pastor, will celebrate the Mass. A reception will be held afterward.

To read the archdiocese's statement on the Komen Race for the Cure, visit stlrespectlife.org. "It would be wonderful to see a church packed with friends and families," said Nolkemper. "Together we would pour our energy and support into praying for everyone impacted by breast cancer."

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