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Actually, O’Malley is being O’Malley. Again. Thank goodness.

May 20, 2013

Michael Coren has a pretty good article over at Catholic World Report on Boston Cdl. Sean O’Malley’s decision not to attend Boston College’s commencement in protest against its invitation to Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny (another politician who’s Catholic when it’s convenient but pro-abortion when it counts) to deliver the main address. But Coren contrasts O’Malley’s decision in the Kenny commencement matter as “fundamentally different” from the prelate’s 2009 decision in the Kennedy funeral matter. Well, I deny Coren’s assertion that O’Malley’s decisions stand in contrast to one another and, while the burden is on Coren to demonstrate his assertion, I’ll mention a few points for my readers’ reflection.

First, a commencement address and a funeral liturgy are canonically very different things. Anyone wishing to compare them must show first of all how an academic exercise is sufficiently like a sacramental of the Church to support any arguments resting on their alleged comparableness. Now, I can point to a boatload of dissertations discussing the canon law of Catholic funerals, but I know of none on the canon law of Catholic commencement exercises; so one draws, therefore, analogies between commencement and funerals at one’s own risk.

Second, and more to the point, O’Malley’s decision in the Kennedy funeral case was made, as I argued then and argue today, quite within the bounds of—nay, in compliance with!—the canon law on Catholic funerals.

No one can tell me anything about Ted Kennedy’s pathetic public record that I don’t already know, but I know something, too, about how the canon law on Catholic funerals reads, and I suggest that considerable venom was aimed at Cdl. O’Malley for his Kennedy funeral decision by people who literally did not know what they were talking about. I say Catholics who take up the pen to discuss points of Catholic discipline—let alone to criticize Catholics prelates who, as we all know, are not above criticism—owe it to their readers to know what they are talking about in regard to such points. Else, they’re just recirculating common Catholic chatter, and who needs more of that?

Just as I defended Bishop Daily’s 2002 decision to withhold Catholic funeral rites from a public sinner, so I defended O’Malley’s 2009 decision to grant them to another, because both episcopal decisions were, in my professional opinion, made in accord with Catholic law in light of the relevant facts. Thus, O’Malley’s decision to boycott the Boston College commencement, if it’s comparable at all to his decision to permit Ted Kennedy a funeral, is an example of O’Malley’s consistency in following Church discipline, properly understood, despite his taking fire from friendlies for it.

In short, I join in Coren’s praise of O’Malley for his Boston College call, but I see it as O’Malley being O’Malley, rather than as O’Malley being a new-O’Malley.

Added: Anne Henderschott has some good thoughts here.

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