Four years ago, some conservatives created an uproar when pro-choice President Barack Obama was invited to deliver the commencement address at Notre Dame University. (That protest was more than a little hypocritical, given the school's tradition of featuring pro-choice speakers including Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.) Now, Boston Cardinal Sean O'Malley has announced he will boycott next week's graduation speech at Jesuit Boston College by Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny.
For Cardinal O'Malley, Kenny's offense is his support for new legislation allowing Irish physicians to perform emergency abortion procedures only in those dire circumstances in which the life of the mother is in immediate jeopardy. That bill arose after the 2012 case of Savita Halappanavar, who needlessly died in agony after doctors refused her pleas to terminate her already miscarried pregnancy. While the legislative debate continues, Halappanavar's husband has since accepted apologies from both University Hospital Galway and the midwife who told him as his wife was dying that "this is a Catholic country."
But as Huffington Post reported, Cardinal O'Malley is apparently in no mood for apologies:
In a statement Friday, O'Malley said abortion is "a crime against humanity" and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has asked Catholic institutions not to honor officials who promote it. Kenny is set to receive an honorary degree from BC at the May 20 commencement.
O'Malley said that since Boston College hasn't withdrawn its invitation, and Kenny hasn't declined it, "I shall not attend the graduation."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," he said.
As it turns out, O'Malley had no problem when another pro-choice politician addressed the graduates at Boston College. In 2006, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice spoke at the BC commencement. While her appearance drew some protests from opponents of the Iraq War, Rice's supporters were predictably forgiving about her "mildly pro-choice" views. Among them was Kathryn Jean Lopez of the National Review, who three years later would join the crusaders denouncing Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama:
"I don't think BC is compromising any fundamental values by having her speak."
Lopez was far from alone. As you can see at the top of the page, Cardinal O'Malley was not only in attendance for Rice's 2006 speech, but applauded the pro-choice Republican.