Pro-Life Catholics Have Had Enough

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For two millennia, the Catholic Church has, consistently and unremittingly, condemned the killing of innocent children through procured abortion.

From the Didache in 70 A.D., which said “you shall not murder a child by abortion nor kill that which is begotten,” to the Second Vatican Council in 1965, which declared “… abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes,” Catholicism has always held that life in the womb must be protected.

For the left-leaning Catholic elites who administer the Church’s vast infrastructure of religious institutions in this country — schools, colleges, universities, hospitals, charities, and fraternal orders — this belief is, at best, academic.

These elites, long ago, made their peace with legal abortion. They conformed to the culture, moved with the times, and arranged a comfortable accommodation with secular society. Nowhere is this accommodation more brazenly apparent than in the scandalous custom of giving awards, honors, and platforms — usually associated with fund-raising venues — to public figures who support abortion.

Officially, this practice is prohibited by the hierarchy, but the prohibitions are rarely enforced, and the bishops themselves are often complicit in violating them. The archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, is one of the more egregious offenders.

For the orthodox Catholics of the pro-life movement, these honors are appalling and bewildering. The Faithful feel dispossessed, and they have grown exasperated at being betrayed by their own institutions, which seem to be in the hands of assimilated bourgeois careerists indistinguishable from their post-Christian counterparts in civil society.

Exacerbating all of this is the shocking and unexpected hostility from many priests and prelates, even conservative priests and prelates, towards the conscience rights of pro-life Catholics, who have religious, ethical, and medical objections to the reception of abortion-tainted vaccines.

Never before in the history of the pro-life movement have so many faithful Catholics felt aggrieved towards and estranged from the leadership of the Church.

On April 1, 2022, that grievance and estrangement reached critical mass on a sidewalk in the Town of Norwood in Norfolk County, in Massachusetts.


Earlier this year, Boston’s Catholic Memorial School, one of the most prominent Catholic preparatory schools in New England, announced that it would honor, at its Spring Gala fund-raising dinner, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh. The former mayor of Boston, Walsh would be presented with the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice Medal, named after the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, who established Catholic Memorial in 1957.

Walsh gave up, some time ago, the Kennedyesque pretense of being “personally opposed” to abortion. Honored by NARAL and endorsed by Planned Parenthood, Walsh said he wanted to make Boston a sanctuary city for abortion, should Roe v. Wade be overturned.

An aggressive and unrelenting opponent of Catholic morality, Walsh even named a square in Boston’s South End after the infamous abortionist, Doctor Kenneth Edelin.

After learning of the planned honor to Walsh, a former president of the Catholic Memorial Alumni Association, pro-life attorney Robert Joyce, attempted to remonstrate with the leadership of the school. 

Neither the president of Catholic Memorial, Peter Folan, nor the chairman of the school’s board of directors, Barbara Fitzgerald, would address the substantive issue, which Joyce aptly described as the “obvious impropriety” of a Catholic entity conferring an award on an advocate of legal, unrestricted, and publicly funded abortion.

Cardinal Sean O’Malley also evaded the issue, with an aide to O’Malley telling Joyce in a letter that the “Archdiocese was not involved with the planning of the event” and “Catholic Memorial is a separately incorporated Catholic school with its own Board of Directors entrusted with oversight of the institution.”

The Massachusetts Pro-Life Coalition — an alliance of nine pro-life organizations established in 2017 under the leadership of Bill Cotter, the president of Operation Rescue: Boston — was revived to confront the Catholic Memorial scandal.

As the Coalition began to receive coverage in the Catholic and conservative press, Catholic Memorial continued to dodge questions about Walsh’s record. Instead, the school minimized opposition and repeated talking points about scholarship money for the needy.


The Massachusetts Pro-Life Coalition decided that the appropriate response to this shameful betrayal of Catholic principles was a public demonstration during the fund raiser. 

The CM Spring Gala was held in the Sheraton Hotel in Norwood, about twenty-one miles south of Boston. It was during a Friday afternoon rush hour, in an out-of-the-way location, on a chilly day, beyond Boston’s public transportation system. Hotel security, alerted to the picket, closed off an adjoining parking lot, forcing participants to park some distance away.

Another pro-life organization was holding its regular vigil, at the same time, at the Planned Parenthood abortuary in Boston. It was also a Friday in Lent, when many faithful Catholics would be attending Stations of the Cross.

Despite these obstacles, about eighty dedicated pro-lifers arrived to defend the Catholic Faith, vindicate the Right to Life, and bear witness against the apostasy and corruption of the misnamed Catholic Memorial. They came not to condemn Marty Walsh, but to reform the Church.

The demonstration was legal, peaceful, and prayerful. Participants engaged in constitutionally protected, expressive First Amendment activity.

Though earnest in their opposition to the travesty inside, the atmosphere among pro-lifers was joyous. They were happy to see one another, encouraged by support from passersby, and elated and energized by the higher-than-expected turnout. 

As there was only one entrance to the hotel, on a divided highway, every guest entering the facility passed scores of pro-life witnesses, many holding signs reminding them of the cruel abandonment of the unborn. One university student brought a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Patroness of the Unborn.

Inside, the atmosphere was anything but joyous, or even serene. There was an unusually heavy security presence. More than a half dozen private guards and Norwood police officers patrolled the event, with additional guards in the parking lot outside, constantly harassing demonstrators for having one foot over the property line.

It seems that organizers of the banquet were convinced that violent pro-lifers — many of them clutching Rosary beads — would crash the dinner, storm the podium, and disrupt the proceedings. According to one report, they were even eyeballing paying guests for fear that an imposter would rise up and cause a disturbance.

These unwarranted apprehensions are a reminder of how disconnected Catholic elites are from ordinary, faithful Catholics. It would seem that their only knowledge of the pro-life movement is derived from what they read in The Boston Globe, where a writer once referred to “typical anti-abortion zealots, screaming obscenities and foaming at the mouth.”

The only profanities heard that evening were from angry attendees, offended that anyone, even in silence, by their very presence, would disturb their consciences.

Walsh received his award, with former Suffolk County District Attorney Dan Conley, and current Boston City Council president Ed Flynn, looking on. A reported $1.1 million was raised from the banquet.

Meanwhile, outside, pro-lifers believed they just participated in a historic exercise in Catholic loyalty and pro-life solidarity — a hopeful sign for the future.


C.J. Doyle is the Executive Director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, and one of the founders of the Massachusetts Pro-Life Coalition.


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