The Archbishop of Boston Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley has commented on the results of the 2008 election, comparing Sen. Barack Obama’s election to the presidency to a momentous occasion like the fall of the Berlin Wall. However, he lamented the president-elect’s “deplorable record” on pro-life issues.
Speaking in an interview with the Boston Globe’s Michael Paulson, Cardinal O’Malley said the recent election was “very complicated” and the abortion issue did not decide its outcome.
“It was more the economy, the war, and the dissatisfaction with the present administration,” he said.
Describing his past involvement with the civil rights movement, Cardinal O'Malley likened the election of an African American to the Berlin Wall falling. "I mean, for my generation, I suppose young people today can’t appreciate that, but to me it is something very big,” he told Paulson.
“My joy, however, is tempered by the knowledge that this man has a deplorable record when it comes to pro-life issues and is possibly in the pocket of Planned Parenthood,” the cardinal continued, noting the irony that the organization’s origins were racist and claiming its aims were to “eliminate the blacks.”
Saying he will try to work with the president-elect, Cardinal O’Malley said Obama should realize his election was not a mandate to “rush ahead with a pro-abortion platform.” He argued that the passage of marriage referenda in Florida and California showed that people who were socially conservative voted for Obama for other reasons.
Discussing the actions of the bishops, many of whom were vocally pro-life in the months leading up to the election, the cardinal voiced confidence that people understand the Church’s teaching on abortion.
“And obviously when you look at the differential between the way that Catholics who are church-going Catholics vote and those who are not church going Catholics, I think that the Catholics reflect the church’s teaching,” the cardinal continued. “Not as much as we’d like them to, but certainly this last election there were many other factors that intervened.”
Turning to the matter of the worthy reception of Holy Communion, especially as it concerns Catholics who publicly support abortion rights, Cardinal O’Malley noted a decline in awareness of the need to be both “spiritually prepared” and in a state of grace before receiving Holy Communion.
“Today I think we need to reinforce that teaching a lot. And once that teaching is better understood, then, I think, it will be obvious as to who should be coming to Communion and who shouldn’t. But until there’s a decision of the church to formally excommunicate people, I don’t think we’re going to be denying Communion to the people,” Cardinal O’Malley told Paulson.
He added that the bishops did not aim to generate confrontation within Mass.
“We do not want to make a battleground out of the Eucharist,” he said.
Stressing that everything must be done to reduce the number of abortions, he insisted on the necessity of working for “just laws that protect human life.”
“As long as those unjust laws are on the book, human life is threatened,” he added, criticizing the proposed Freedom of Choice Act which would make abortions more accessible to people and would fund them with taxpayer dollars. He further endorsed work to change the laws and people’s hearts so they better realize “how our humanity is diminished when we are not respectful of human life.”
Closing his interview with Paulson, he commented on the bishops’ fall assembly. Cardinal O’Malley said he would like to see the bishops have a “united voice” and a “strong response” that will emphasize that “there’s no new way of being pro-life” and will urge that both legal and cultural pro-life avenues must be pursued.