Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley is to boycott Irish Prime minister Enda Kenny’s visit to Boston College over Ireland’s move to legislate for abortion.
The Catholic Church leader will not attend the College’s commencement when Kenny will deliver the keynote speech.
The Cardinal declared to the Boston Herald that he will not attend the event in light of Kenny’s support for pro-abortion legislation in Ireland.
The paper says the announcement has upped the ante in a debate that earlier in the week saw Boston College authorities clash with the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, a group that opposes abortion rights.
The league has strongly criticized the university for inviting Kenny.
His government is currently preparing legislation to permit abortions if there is a real and substantive threat to the mother’s life, including from suicide.
A statement from O’Malley said US bishops have urged Catholic institutions not to honor government officials who ‘promote abortion’ with their policies.
The statement from the Cardinal said: “Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach [prime minister] has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation.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 not adhering to the bishops’ directives.”
The report says that by tradition, the Boston archbishop delivers the final benediction at BC’s commencement each year.
The university plans to award Kenny an honorary doctor of laws degree at the ceremony on May 20 at Alumni Stadium.
Cardinal O’Malley added: “I assure the graduates that they are in my prayers on this important day in their lives.
“Although I shall not be present to impart the final benediction, I assure the graduates that they are in my prayers on this important day in their lives.
“I pray that their studies will prepare them to be heralds of the Church’s social gospel and ‘men and women for others,’ especially for the most vulnerable in our midst.”
Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn defended the decision to invite Kenny.
He said: As a Catholic university, Boston College supports the church’s commitment to the life of the unborn.
“Prime Minister Kenny has encouraged individuals to read the bill and his position statement, which reaffirms the constitutional prohibition on abortion in Ireland and attempts to clarify and regulate Ireland’s response to the ruling of the European Court of Human Rights.
“Boston College respects Cardinal O’Malley and regrets that he will not attend.”
The head of the Catholic Action League praised O’Malley in a brief phone interview with the paper.
Executive director CJ Doyle said: “We’re delighted. We commend the cardinal for his forthright and unambiguous statement.
“The controversy is not the first scandal and betrayal of church teachings to afflict BC and probably won’t be the last. I hope Cardinal O’Malley will perhaps contribute to the reform of that institution.”
Student leader Stephanie Rice, a BC senior and president of the College Democrats of Boston College, spoke out against O’Malley’s move to skip commencement.
She said: “I am deeply disappointed that Cardinal O’Malley has chosen to politicize what should be a day of celebrating the four years of hard work and learning that I and my classmates have experienced at Boston College.
“In my time here at BC, we have been taught to respect and understand the value of a diversity of opinions, and I am proud that those values will be represented at our commencement ceremony by Prime Minister Kenny.”