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Cardinal joins protest over Boston College commencement honor for Irish leader

May 10, 2013

Responding to protests by a lay Catholic activist group in Massachusetts, Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley has denounced plans by Boston College to award an honorary degree to Irish prime minister Enda Kenny.

Kenny is scheduled to be the principal speaker at Boston College commencement exercises on May 20. The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts had urged Catholics to oppose the invitation to Kenny, and to express their concerns to officials at the Jesuit- run school, to Jesuit superiors, and to Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley. In a public statement, the Catholic Action League summarized the arguments against honoring Kenny at a Catholic institution:

Kenny's government has just introduced legislation to legalize abortion in Ireland. It has also introduced legislation which would impose criminal penalties, including imprisonment, on Catholic priests who refuse to violate the seal of the confessional in cases of sexual abuse. Kenny has misrepresented the words of Pope Benedict XVI, insulted the Holy See and closed the Irish Embassy to the Vatican.

In a May 10 public statement, Cardinal O'Malley said that the decision to confer a doctorate on the Irish leader violates the US bishops' directives for honors bestowed to public figures by Catholic institutions. The cardinal said that because Boston College has not withdrawn the invitation, "I shall not attend the graduation."

“It is my ardent hope that Boston College will work to redress the confusion, disappointment and harm caused" by the honor to Kenny, the cardinal said.

A spokesman for Boston College told the Boston Globe that the school was honoring Kenny “in light of our longstanding connection with Ireland.” He said that the commencement invitation was “independent of the proposed bill that will be debated in the Irish parliament this summer.” He was referring to a bill that would allow for legal abortion in Ireland. Kenny has indicated his support for the legislation, while the Irish hierarchy strongly opposes it.

In a related development, Cardinal O’Malley underlined his own opposition to the Irish bill in an interview with the Catholic Herald of London. “Ireland should be very proud of its pro-life heritage and how traditionally there has been great importance given to human life,” the cardinal said. “I hope that Ireland will continue to stand up against the pressures--I know the pressures are there.”

“Pressure to legislate for abortion is a dehumanizing force in our world,” Cardinal O’Malley said.


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Show 6 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: lauriem5377 - May. 11, 2013 12:50 PM ET USA

    Perhaps under Pope Francis we will see the Bishops taking a more active role in promoting fidelity to Catholic teaching.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - May. 11, 2013 9:16 AM ET USA

    I for one will content myself with cheering the cardinal's clear statement. I might wish he (and others) would simply clear the air by saying these institutions are not and cannot call themselves Catholic. It's time for some pain all around, a sharing in the pain caused so many by the hideous practice of abortion. All Catholics should want to "go to the wall" to give witness against cynical politicians like Kenny, Biden, and Pelosi who are using Catholicism for their own selfish ends.

  • Posted by: Chestertonian - May. 10, 2013 11:50 PM ET USA

    BC is following the unfortunate precedent set by Georgetown and Notre Dame. Until the bishops develop enough spine to do more than just issue a statement and decline to attend, these schools will continue to intentionally misinterpret Church teaching and support anti-life behavior by bestowing honors. The USCCB should tell the schools they must immediately stop calling themselves "Catholic", and then pull any and all support until the schools correct their behavior and apologize.

  • Posted by: MatJohn - May. 10, 2013 10:08 PM ET USA

    The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts has long been an advocate of a no compromising stance on Catholic teaching. His recent visit on the Life Matters TV program on BNN in Boston was a stinging rebuke of Boston College and its proclivity for "honoring" celebrities with blatantly dissident views of the Church while shamelessly casting aside its Catholic roots.

  • Posted by: - May. 10, 2013 9:37 PM ET USA

    A Catholic b-b-bishop is protesting a pro-abortion speaker within his realm? R-r-realy?

  • Posted by: Defender - May. 10, 2013 5:54 PM ET USA

    It would look strange to the pope if the cardinal didn't say something after being appointed to his advisory committee. However, where was the cardinal when Garvey was the head of BC Law and he and 75 others criticized one of their own for his views (in accord with the Magisterium) of SSM and allowing pro-abortion speakers to address the school?