Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has said he will not attend tomorrow's graduation ceremony at Boston College to protest the school's choice in speakers.
Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is set to address graduates and receive an honorary degree, an honor O'Malley opposes due to Kenny's promotion of abortion legislation in Ireland.
Kenny is leading an attempt to amend Ireland's ban on abortion by allowing pregnant women to get abortions if two doctors confirm that her life is in danger. Ireland is one of two nations in the European Union where abortion is illegal.
On May 10, O'Malley released a statement saying he would not attend the graduation, as is customary, since the college did not withdraw Kenny's invitation.
"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," O'Malley said in the statement, which was posted on his blog.
Students for Life of America is also organizing a prayer vigil and public witness outside the graduation ceremony to protest Kenny's presence.
Boston College Spokesman Jack Dunn said school officials invited Kenny to speak at the commencement due to the historically close relationship Boston College has enjoyed with Ireland.
"As a Catholic institution, Boston College supports the Church’s commitment to the life of the unborn. Prime Minister Kenny has encouraged individuals to read the proposed 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," Dunn said. "We respect Cardinal O’Malley and regret that he will not be in attendance. However, we look forward to our Commencement and to Prime Minister Kenny’s remarks."
It is the school's 137th commencement ceremony. It is set for 10 a.m. in Alumni Stadium.
Read O'Malley's entire statement below:
Because the Gospel of Life is the centerpiece of the Church’s social doctrine and because we consider abortion a crime against humanity, the Catholic Bishops of the United States have asked that Catholic institutions not honor government officials or politicians who promote abortion with their laws and policies.
Recently I learned that the Prime Minister of Ireland, the Hon. Mr. Enda Kenny was slated to receive an honorary degree at Boston College’s graduation this year. I am sure that the invitation was made in good faith, long before it came to the attention of the leadership of Boston College that Mr. Kenny is aggressively promoting abortion legislation. The Irish Bishops have responded to that development by affirming the Church’s teaching that “the deliberate decision to deprive an innocent human being of life is always morally wrong” and expressed serious concern that the proposed legislation “represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law.”
Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach 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. 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, and 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.