Cardinal Sean O'Malley

So much for Cardinal Sean O’Malley the hope of the millions of moderate Catholics worldwide who almost became pope according to some reports.

The Boston cardinal has now shown his true colors in boycotting Irish leader Enda Kenny when he gives the commencement speech in Boston College next weekend.

Irish officials are said to be deeply upset at the cardinal who had indicated he would not attend but would make no statement, a sensible way around the issue. That was the state of play until yesterday when O’Malley made a deeply controversial statement which is said to have taken Boston College leaders by total surprise.

Kenny’s crime is following the ruling of his country’s Supreme Court which ordered that abortion legislation be drawn up in very narrow circumstances such as when the life of the mother is in clear danger.

The tragic consequences of not legislating were laid out in Galway recently when a young Indian woman died after a doctor refused to terminate her non-viable fetus, fearing she would be prosecuted  and Savita Halappannvar suffered an infection and death soon after.

Kenny took his courage in his hands after that and decided to finally enact the laws that the Irish Supreme Court had dictated had to be enacted all those years before in 1992 in the infamous X case when a young underage girl, raped and made pregant by a neighbor was refused permission to travel to Britain for an abortion.

The bill he drew up is as narrow a focus and interpretation as is possible in law, doing the bare minimum and severely constricting the right to an abortion except in desperate cases.

The usual Irish solution which might horrify O’Malley, is that unlike in the X case thousands of Irish women, many raped or victims of incest get to go to Britain for their terminations. That way Irish society can pretend such dirty truths do not happen to them.

Kenny knows all that and tried to do the humane thing and also enact the law as he is designated to do under the constitution.

As he remarked himself, the law in Ireland is the constitution not the bible. He deserves enormous credit for standing up.

But for his sins Kenny is now feeling a belt of the crozier from the suddenly hard-line O’Malley.

The fact that O’Malley is taking his instructions from Irish Primate Cardinal Sean Brady who covered up for the worst pedophile in recent history, Father Brendan Smyth makes the matter even more mystifying.

O’Malley has a stellar reputation in Ireland where he confronted the pedophile issue openly and honestly as part of a brief for American bishops sent from the Vatican.

Now I believe many Irish will look again and see the iron first of church intolerance under the benign presence.

To boycott the Irish Prime Minister is to insult Irish people everywhere which is what O’Malley has just done.

In the process he will drive Kenny’s popularity through the roof most likely. “There’s nothing like an attack on a country’s leader from afar done completely in the wrong context” said one senior Irish government official I spoke with. Kudos for Boston College for standing up to the pressure to discard Kenny as commencement speaker. It is good to see one Irish institution in Boston show some courage in the face of extremists.