NEWTON (CBS) – Cardinal Sean O’Malley has announced that he plans to boycott Boston College commencement ceremonies over the fact that Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny would be receiving an honorary degree from the Catholic school.

The Boston Archbishop traditionally offers the final prayers to graduates at BC.

But in statement, O’Malley says he’ll skip the event in protest because Kenney is currently pushing for a vote on controversial abortion-rights legislation that would permit abortions if there is a threat to the mother’s life.

O’Malley says Catholic Bishops have asked that “Catholic institutions not honor government officials or politicians who promote abortion with their laws and policies.”

Catholic doctrine states that any abortion is a crime against humanity.

“Since the university has not withdrawn the invitation and because the Taoiseach has not seen fit to decline, I shall not attend the graduation,” O’Malley’s statement said.

Boston College has described Kenny as a member of “the progressive center, focusing on the rights and responsibilities of all citizens, while also demonstrating his concern for social justice.”

Boston College released the following statement about O’Malley’s decision:

“Boston College invited Irish Prime Minster Enda Kenny to speak at our Commencement in light of 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 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.

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.”

Despite his decision not to attend, O’Malley offered prayers for BC’s graduates.

“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,” his statement said.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts had been pressuring Cardinal O’Malley to respond to the Prime Minister’s honorary degree.

“Clearly this is a case where Boston College has engaged in an unconscionable betrayal of Catholic moral teachings,” said C.J. Doyle Executive Director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

“We hope however the Cardinal will remain focused on Boston College, because this is not the first scandal or the last scandal involving BC’s Catholic identity.”


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