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Boston College stands firm on choice of Irish PM as commencement speaker, despite criticism from local Catholic group

Posted by Your Town  May 9, 2013 05:03 PM

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Boston College has reaffirmed its decision to invite the Irish prime minister as its commencement speaker, despite criticism from a conservative local Catholic group.

Prime Minister Enda Kenny has been under fire for supporting legislation in Ireland that would permit abortions if there is a real and substantive threat to the mother’s life, including from suicide.

Irish bishops have spoken out against the measure, calling it “a dramatic and morally unacceptable change to Irish law.”

“It is a tragic moment for Irish society when we regard the deliberate destruction of a completely innocent person as an acceptable response to the threat of the preventable death of another person,” they said in a state earlier this month.

The Catholic Action League of Massachusetts issued a statement on Tuesday, condemning Boston College’s decision to invite the Irish Prime Minister to speak at commencement. In the statement the League urges Catholics to express their outrage, and provides contact information for several officials, including the President of Boston College Rev. William P. Leahy, and Boston Archbishop Sean O’Malley.

The criticism was first reported by the Irish Times.

“Kenny has misrepresented the words of Pope Benedict XVI, insulted the Holy See and closed the Irish Embassy to the Vatican, “ the statement says. “At a time when the Church and the entire pro-life movement in Ireland is resisting this evil man, Boston College is honoring him!”

But BC spokesman Jack Dunn defended the choice, saying the school selected him to celebrate its heritage and relationship with Ireland.

“Boston college invited Prime Minister Kenny to speak at our commencement in light of our long-standing connection with Ireland and our desire to recognize and celebrate our heritage,” he said in a phone interview today, adding. “Our invitation is independent of the proposed bill that will be debated in the irish parliament this summer.”

The college is schedule to award Kenny an honorary Doctor of Laws degree at the ceremony, which will be held May 20 at Alumni Stadium.

Katherine Landergan can be reached at klandergan@globe.com. For campus news updates, follow her on Twitter @klandergan.

Looking for more coverage of area colleges and universities? Go to our Your Campus pages.

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