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Cardinal O’Malley boycotts college ceremony in protest at Irish PM

Cardinal Seán O'Malley of Boston (Photo: CNS)

Cardinal Seán O’Malley, the Archbishop of Boston, has said he plans to boycott Boston College’s commencement ceremony on Monday because Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny is scheduled to speak at the event.

Traditionally, the Boston archbishop delivers the final benediction at Boston College’s annual commencement. But this year Mr Kenny, who has been pushing for a change to Ireland’s abortion law, is set to be awarded an honorary degree by the college. In a statement the archbishop said the Irish Prime Minister had been “aggressively promoting abortion legislation”.

“Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation,” he said.

In reference to the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ instruction that Catholic institutions should not honour those whose views are contradict Church teachings, Cardinal O’Malley added: “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.”

Mr Kenny’s coalition government is preparing a law to allow abortions where a woman’s life is at risk or if she is deemed at risk of suicide. In his statement, Cardinal O’Malley went on to quote the Irish bishops, who say the proposed legislation “represents a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law”.

“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,” the statement continued.

“I pray that their studies will prepare them to be heralds of the Church’s social hospel and ‘men and women for others’ especially for the most vulnerable in our midst.”

Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn told the Boston Globe that the invitation to the Irish prime minister was made a year ago and with the aim being to celebrate the college’s “heritage and relationship with Ireland”.

“Our invitation is independent of the proposed bill that will be debated in the Irish parliament this summer,” he added.

In an interview in last week’s edition of The Catholic Herald, Cardinal O’Malley urged Irish politicians to not succumb to pressure to relax abortion laws.

“Every life counts, and I am very proud that in Ireland protection is given to life that is as vulnerable as the unborn. I hope that Ireland will continue to stand up against the pressures ­ I know the pressures are there,” he said.