Cardinal Sean O'Malley with Pope Francis

Did Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley renege on a deal over the controversy surrounding Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s appearance as the commencement speaker at Boston College?

Irish government sources strongly believe he did and the level of anger towards the cardinal has left some of them spitting fire.

In addition, Boston College authorities are said by Irish government sources to be deeply upset at the turn of events that has left the prospect of large anti-abortion protests at Kenny’s appearance on May 20th very likely.

Both Boston College and the Irish government were of the opinion the matter had been handled sensitively on all sides and would quell the developing controversy when anti abortion groups began targeting Kenny.

According to my sources O’Malley had indicated agreement with a plan that would see him absent on the day at Boston College but with a plausible reason not directly related to Kenny for not attending.

That way he would have signalled his disapproval but not become embroiled in the controversy that has now been stoked by his comments.

They point out that O’Malley had recently warmly and very publically  greeted President Obama at the interfaith services for Boston victims of the marathon bombing despite Obama’s position as far more pro-active on defending abortion than Kenny.

The Irish government made the case firmly that Enda Kenny had very reluctantly introduced the minimal legislation that safeguards the life of the mother on the back of a Supreme Court judgement that mandated he or some future Irish government had to do it.

His move came after public consternation over the death of Savita Halappanavar, an Indian-born dentist who died of sepsis, after doctors in Galway refused to terminate her non- viable fetus despite her desperate pleas to do so.

There was uproar in Ireland over her death and the subsequent inquest found the hospital deeply culpable in her treatment.

The line in Cardinal O’Malley’s statement that “Mr. Kenny is aggressively promoting abortion legislation" is seen as especially misleading, Kenny is doing nothing of the sort say the Irish government sources. He is very reluctantly forced by a huge public controversy and a Supreme Court judgement from 1992 to act on the issue.

O‘Malley had been seen as by far the most reasonable voice in the American Catholic church in Ireland but that perception, given how he has dealt with this controversy is now changed.

“This could have been dealt with, as originally intended, as a diplomatic matter, allowing everyone their space” said an Irish government senior source. "Instead it is now a circus.”

Kenny for his part is said to be adamant that he will make the Boston College commencement address but feels personally hurt by how the matter has been handled. However senior diplomats speculate it will actually help him politically in Ireland given the harsh nature of the O’Malley condemnation.