The Anti-Abortion Domino Effect

I’ve hesitated commenting on Cardinal O’Malley’s self-disinvite from BC’s commencement. He seems to be a smart guy. I don’t know why a supercardinal would resort to the tired old strategy of boycotting a college’s honorary speaker.

In the past, on these pages, I’ve wondered openly why a bishop doesn’t take the platform at prayer time to offer a few choice words about the sanctity of life. I mean: it’s not any more impolite than to suggest a booked speaker be disinvited or to decline to attend oneself.

I do appreciate Cardinal O’Malley’s frustration. We have forty years of frustration in this nation, and it hasn’t netted a whole lot of progress. That is, if we judge progress by the evolution to a tamped-down rhetoric in the culturewar. To my knowledge Enda Kenny has not had an abortion, or performed one, or paid for someone to have one performed. So he’s not in excommunication territory here.

I’m not sure that pro-lifers could say that about the people behind the Made-in-China products that stock their shelves and cabinets at home. There are alternatives to shopping Big Box Buy. But let’s leave that aside for the moment.

I observe a line of dominoes:

  • We can’t convince women not to have abortions, so we make it difficult for clinics.
  • We can’t convince clinics not to provide abortions, so we target doctors and other personnel.
  • We can’t convince providers to stop, so we plant our hopes on politicians.
  • We can’t convince politicians, so we go after voters.

Now we have a person three-times removed (at least) from the actual moral decision who is the target of a boycott. The boycott seems rather fussy to me. Archbishop Dolan is friendly enough to eat with pro-choicers. And since it’s highly unlikely Mr Kenny is going to trumpet on the virtues of unlimited abortion-on-demand, the whole exercise on the Cardinal’s part seems rather impotent.

No unborn child will be saved. But any way he moves ahead, ill will will follow. Too many pro-lifers have generated too much blood-lust on the issue, three or four times removed from a decision over which they have little to no influence.

A lack of influence is a terrible thing for a leader to suffer. But we can’t blame it on abortion, can we?

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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2 Responses to The Anti-Abortion Domino Effect

  1. Liam says:

    What’s interesting here is that Cdl Sean is getting flack for failing to exploit this opportunity to deliver a smack-down in person. The agitating blogs from the Boston area, and their combox warriers, have been very busy, animated by fury at three things:

    1. Cdl Sean allowing President Obama (oh, and add Gov Patrick & Mayor Menino to that mix too, plus the Islamic representative) to make an address at the interfaith service in our cathedral after the Marathon bombings.

    2. Cdl Sean’s presence at the funeral of Senator Kennedy in 2009.


    3. The fact that Boston College has not had its Catholic bona fides removed all these many years.

    It’s a Sargasso Sea of seething resentment.

    * * *

    Now, I went to a university that somewhat famously refused to grant honorary degrees, and for that reason I’ve tended to view anything in a commencement ceremony that smacks of the cult of celebrity or personality worship (as opposed to honoring the achievements of the graduates and sacrifices of those who made those achievements possible) with a gimlet eye. The educational-industrial-political hothouse is rather nauseating.

    Cdl Sean does have some role, I suspect, in granting pontifical degrees at BC, but I am not sure his physical presence is necessary for that.

  2. Jim McCrea says:

    People are discovering more and more that the world does not come to a crashing end if certain notables choose to excuse themselves from various and sundry civic events. The ecclesiastical hierarchy had better hope that this discovery doesn’t catch on in church circles as well.

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