A Pro-Life Appeal to Cardinal O’Malley and All Massachusetts Bishops

A Pro-Life Appeal to Cardinal O’Malley and All Massachusetts Bishops

Massachusetts pro-lifers criticize Cardinal O’Malley on honors for pro-abortion politicians 


We the undersigned – comprising Catholic and non-Catholic individuals – address this statement to the Catholic bishops of Massachusetts, most especially to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston and Metropolitan of the Ecclesiastical Province of Boston [and former Chairman of the Pro-Life Activities Committee of the U. S. Conference of Catholic Bishops].

To publicly criticize bishops is not something that we do lightly, but the weight of this matter requires a commensurately strong statement. All of the signatories have been actively involved in pro-life efforts. As such, we value and need the support of the bishops.

Unfortunately, in recent years a disturbing trend has emerged. While there is still rhetorical and material support for the pro-life cause from Catholic prelates, too many of their actions belie their words, to the detriment of the Gospel of Life.

A recent such action is the ban on signature gathering on Church property, just as another effort to end state abortion funding gets underway.

The bishops claim that an “overwhelming” number of parishioners opposed the collection of signatures, presumably during the 2015 signature drive on the same issue. But compared to the 28,891 people who signed the petitions, which number is really overwhelming? Do those who complain about relatively rare pro-life petitions represent truly Catholic thinking, and should their objections be the basis of Church policy?

Adding to the gravity of this new policy is the context in which it resides: it follows upon the many occasions that Catholic prelates, most especially Cardinal O’Malley, have violated their own polices as set forth in the 2004 document from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Catholics in Political Life, which says, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

From 2014 to the present, there have been at least nineteen occasions in Massachusetts at which honors or platforms were given to notorious supporters of abortion by Catholic institutions with either the personal participation of or authorization by Catholic bishops.

For example:

  • On May 27, 2014, Jesuit administered Boston College conferred an honorary doctorate of laws on then U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, who was also the commencement speaker. Kerry not only had a 100% pro-abortion voting record as a U.S. senator, but furthered his presidential ambitions by pandering to a key Democratic Party constituency with a cheap, demagogic attack on Pope Saint John Paul II. In 2004, Kerry accused the gravely ill Pontiff of “an inappropriate crossing of the line,” violating the American separation of church and state, for urging Catholics in public life to defend traditional marriage. The Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley—who was appointed by John Paul II—gave the benediction, was photographed smiling and shaking hands with Kerry, and then posed for another photograph with him.
  • In October, 2014, the Missionary Society of Saint James the Apostle, whose President is Cardinal O’Malley, conferred the “Cardinal Cushing Award for Excellence in Service to Humanity” on Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, a proponent of legal abortion. Walsh would go on to receive the 2016 “Men for Choice” Award from NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, defend the public funding of Planned Parenthood, and call for Boston to become a sanctuary city for abortion, should Roe v. Wade be overturned. In 2017, he named a square in Boston after the infamous late-term abortionist, Dr. Kenneth Edelin.
  • On May 7, 2017, Cardinal O’Malley attended the Profile in Courage Award ceremony at the Kennedy Library in Boston, where the award recipient was Barack Obama, who had, as a U.S. senator, a 100% pro-abortion rating from both Planned Parenthood and NARAL. Obama’s administration waged a war on the Catholic Church by unjust HHS mandates imposed by Obamacare legislation, requiring Catholic entities to fund abortifacients, contraceptives, and sterilizations, in violation of the religious freedom rights of Catholics.

On repeated occasions, Cardinal O’Malley has been not merely amicable, but laudatory to those who promote abortion. This is corrosive to pro-life work and disheartening to those involved.

Many other examples could be given. An extensive list is contained in the Special Report of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.

If it is a strategy aimed at conversion, it is a failed strategy. All of the movement among politicians in Massachusetts on the abortion issue has been in one direction—from pro-life to pro-abortion. No one can identify a member of the congressional delegation, the legislature, the Boston City Council, or a constitutional officer who has changed from pro-abortion to pro-life.

On the contrary, some have been emboldened to embrace even more extreme positions in favor of abortion. For example, when Mayor Walsh names a square after abortionist Kenneth Edelin, or says he wants to make Boston a sanctuary city for abortion, he knows, absolutely, that there will be no push-back from the Archdiocese of Boston.

Furthermore, the cardinal’s overtures to abortion advocates:

  • Are uncharitable to the advocates themselves. The Spiritual Works of Mercy include instructing the ignorant, counseling the doubtful, and admonishing the sinner. Saint Paul says the clergy should “convince, rebuke, and exhort” [2 Tim. 4:2].
  • Send a scandalous message of discouragement and confusion. Among the Catholic clergy this can only tend to blunt opposition to the Culture of Death; likewise among the laity, who may be led to think that abortion is not intrinsically evil, and/or that Church teaching is not important.
  • Marginalize many pro-lifers. It conveys to politicians, police, and the media that pro-lifers, especially the ones who minister outside of abortion facilities, are on their own, and have no institutional backing. This impression is reinforced by the refusal of the Archdiocese of Boston to support 40 Days for Life, an international, twice-per-year 40-day peaceful campaign of prayer at abortion facilities, fasting, and community outreach.
    It should come as no surprise, therefore, that Catholic legislators vote for buffer zones, that Catholic public officials lie about pro-lifers at public hearings, nor that a newspaper columnist falsely accuses pro-lifers of screaming obscenities.

The purpose of this statement is to implore Cardinal O’Malley, and other Massachusetts Catholic prelates:

  • To stop these betrayals.
  • To immediately rescind the ban on signature drives on Church property, which is undermining the pro-life cause in Massachusetts.
  • To publicly adhere to and immediately enforce the principle stated in Catholics in Political Life, which says, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”


William Cotter
President, Operation Rescue:Boston
editor@orboston.org, 781-519-9115

Other first signers:

Brian Camenker
Executive Director, Mass Resistance

C. Joseph Doyle
Executive Director, Catholic Action League of Massachusetts

Carmel Farrell

M. M. Finn
WCCA-TV Host, Close to Home

Robert Joyce
Attorney at Law

Philip F. Lawler
Editor, Catholic World News

R.T. Neary

Brendan O’Connell
Executive Producer, Life Matters TV

John Russo

Roy and Ann Scarpato

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