Give Us Barabbas


Here we go again!

In recent years two major Catholic universities, Notre Dame and Georgetown have honored pro-choice politicians at their Commencement Exercises, President Barack Obama and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, respectively. Although the bishops of both the dioceses protested and refused to attend the graduations, the schools remained obstinate in their decisions. Now it is Boston College’s turn to defy the United States Catholic Bishops’ mandate that those who openly oppose Catholic Church teaching should not be invited to speak or be honored at school events.

On April 25th Boston College, a Jesuit University, announced that Irish Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, who is aggressively promoting abortion legislation in Ireland, would be receiving an honorary Doctor of Law degree at their May 20th graduation exercises.

In a limp riposte to Boston’s Archbishop, Cardinal Sean O’Malley’s, protests a college spokesman said, that the school “invited Prime Minister Kenny a year ago” and chose him “in light of our long-standing connection with Ireland and our desire to recognize and celebrate our heritage.” The spokesperson went on to say that the decision to invite Kenny is “independent” of his support of the proposed pro-abortion legislation in Ireland.

Boston College, for sure, has an Irish ancestry – to be exact an Irish “Catholic” ancestry. For those Irish Catholics that founded Boston College (BC) their faith was part of their DNA. BU as well as many of other great Catholic institutions of higher learning can claim a similar heritage. These schools were founded by Irish Catholics to preserve their faith and because of American-Protestant prejudice against their religion.

Boston_College_with_Boston_skylineTo honor someone who directly contradicts and is even hostile to Catholic teaching is inimical to the purpose and mission for which these schools. Furthermore, to try to make a distinction between the person being honored and his or her political position, as BC’s spokesperson Jack Dunn tries to do, is not only philosophically dishonest but intellectually insulting. A person’s faith and politics form an important part of who they are. It is impossible, for example, to separate Pope Francis, from his Catholic Faith.

The tragedy of these honored guest speakers and the awards they receive are the legitimation that they and their positions receive from these events. It is the role of the Catholic education to present a Catholic world view and provide role models for future Catholic leaders. This has all but disappeared from the agenda of our once revered Catholic colleges and universities. In many cases, like those mentioned above, these schools have become detrimental to the Church. They are a scandal!

This being the case, how much longer, can the Catholic bishops allow these schools to promote “pro-choice” politicians and allow them to use the “Catholic” brand name?

It is by no means a reach to say, that when a Catholic college prefers to have a pro-choice politician above the Archbishop of Boston at their graduation that they have lost their Catholic identity. And, if Irish lineage was the deciding factor as to who is to be present and honored at BC’s Commencement Ceremony, what’s not Irish about Sean Patrick O’Malley?

It is time for the Church hierarchy to take a stand and cut out the cancer that is now infecting our American Catholic heritage. Bishop boycotts are not enough. It is time for the bishops to act on Pope John Paul II Apostolic Constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae (From the Heart of the Church) (1990), which instructs Catholic education facilities to respect the norms established by the local bishops. And, where this is not the case, that the designation “Catholic” be removed from them.

After so many years of shirking their responsibility to enforce Ex Corde Ecclesiae, this latest BC infraction should lead to action against these formerly Catholic institutions.

There is nothing short of the Catholic Faith and her pro-life stand at stake. To choose Prime Minister Enda Kenny over Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley is akin to the crowds during the Passion preferring the criminal Barabbas over Jesus.


Chaplain and Research Fellow at Ave Maria Law. Father Michael P. Orsi was ordained for the Diocese of Camden in 1976 and has a broad background in teaching and educational administration. Fr. Orsi has authored or co-authored four books and over 300 articles in more than 45 journals, magazines and newspapers. He has served as Assistant Chancellor, Assistant Vicar for Pastoral Services, Director of Family Life Bureau, and Coordinator of Pope John Paul II’s visit to New Jersey for the Diocese of Camden. He has also served as a member of The Institute for Genomic Research at the University of Pennsylvania and as a member of New Jersey’s Advisory Council on AIDS. Fr. Orsi holds a Doctorate in Education from Fordham University, two Master degrees in Theology from Saint Charles Seminary, and a Bachelor of Arts from Cathedral College. He is presently serving as Chaplain and Research Fellow in Law and Religion at Ave Maria School of Law, Naples, Florida. He is a member of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars. In 2005 Fr. Orsi was appointed as a Senior Research Associate to the Linacre Center for Bioethics, London, England. Fr. Orsi co-hosts a weekly radio program The Advocate which discusses law and culture on WDEO-AM 990, WMAX-AM 1440 in metro Detroit and WDEO-FM 98.5 in southwest Florida [also linked at].

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