BOSTON (AP) — Cardinal Sean O'Malley skipped Boston College's commencement Monday because of the involvement of Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny, who supports a bill in his country that would allow abortion.
A few dozen protesters, some playing bagpipes, demonstrated at the college during the morning graduation ceremony. They held signs with messages that included: "Boston College Keep Your Pro Life Values."
Kenny was addressing undergraduates and accepting an honorary degree from the Jesuit-run college.
He has said the proposed legislation simply clarifies when a doctor can perform an abortion to save a woman's life. But Catholic bishops have said it would greatly expand abortion, particularly by permitting it in certain cases when a woman threatens suicide.
The leader of the Boston Archdiocese traditionally gives the benediction at the college's ceremony. O'Malley called abortion a "crime against humanity" and said he decided not to attend the ceremony, because Boston College didn't withdraw its invitation and Kenny didn't decline it.
Boston College spokesman Jack Dunn said Monday that the school respects O'Malley and regrets that he didn't attend graduation.
Dunn said school officials extended the invitation to Kenny before the bill's introduction and that the college "fully supports the church's commitment to the unborn."
But C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League and one of the protesters, said that too many Catholic institutions have compromised their identity.
"What rational person can reasonably be expected to take seriously Catholic opposition to abortion when our own Catholic institutions honor someone who's trying to legalize abortion in his country?" he said.
Also at Monday's ceremony, two graduate business students who were injured in the Boston Marathon bombings were to receive their diplomas. Brittany Loring and Liza Cherney are graduating from the Carroll School of Management.
Loring needed three operations after her left leg was struck by shrapnel from the first of the twin blasts on April 15. Cherney was standing next to her close friend and classmate and was also badly hurt.