Pro-Lifers Outraged Boston Catholic School Is Honoring Pro-Abortion Biden Cabinet Member

Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh will receive an award from Catholic Memorial, a school for boys operated by the Christian Brothers.

US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh attends the Equal Pay Day event to celebrate Womens History Month in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 15, 2022.
US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh attends the Equal Pay Day event to celebrate Womens History Month in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, March 15, 2022. (photo: Nicholas Kamm / AFP/Getty)

BOSTON — Pro-lifers are criticizing the decision by a Catholic school in Boston to give an award to the city’s former mayor, who supports legal and publicly funded abortion.

Marty Walsh, the current U.S. secretary of labor in the Biden administration, is scheduled to receive the award Friday from Catholic Memorial, a selective Grade 7-12 school for boys run by the Christian Brothers.

As a state representative in the early 2000s, Walsh described himself as “personally pro-life,” but he later dropped that description. As mayor of Boston, he supported the ROE Act bill removing certain restrictions on abortion in Massachusetts; the state Legislature enacted the bill into law in December 2020 over the governor’s veto. 

The bill lowered the age when a girl needs the consent of a parent or a judge to get an abortion from 17 to 15. It also removed previous language in state law requiring doctors to try to save the life of a baby born alive after an attempted abortion.

Walsh supported the original version of the bill, which sought to increase public funding of abortion and eliminate the parental consent requirement for girls of any age.

In February 2016, Walsh received the “Men For Choice” award from a group then known as NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts.

In November 2016, Walsh vowed to make Boston one of the “safe cities” for abortions to take place in if other jurisdictions in the country made abortion illegal.

In June 2017, Walsh spoke at the dedication ceremony of a public square in Boston that he and city councilors named after a doctor who performed abortions. He praised the doctor for “fighting to protect choice.”

The doctor, Kenneth Edelin (1939-2013), performed a late-second-trimester or early-third-trimester abortion in October 1973. A jury later convicted him of manslaughter, finding that he suffocated the male unborn baby by compressing the umbilical cord while the baby was detached from the wall of his mother’s uterus but still inside his mother’s body. The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court in 1976 overturned the verdict and ordered an acquittal, finding there was not enough evidence to prove that a “live birth” had taken place.

Of Edelin, Walsh said: “It would be hard to overstate his mark he made on the city of Boston. He possessed a rare combination of a remarkable talent and a devotion to doing the right thing.”

 The Award

From Catholic Memorial, Walsh is set to receive the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice Award. Rice (1762-1844) was a rich export merchant in Waterford, Ireland. He grew up during a time when it was illegal to teach the Catholic faith in Ireland. After his wife died, he founded a religious order to teach boys. He was beatified in 1996.

Robert Joyce, a graduate of Catholic Memorial and a lawyer in nearby Newton, said he finds giving the award to Walsh incongruous with the mission of the school.

“It kind of sent a message that abortion might not be that bad to support or maybe even participate in, because after all, Martin Walsh is a zealous proponent of abortion, and he’s receiving the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice Award. The message to the students is contrary to the message that you want Catholic young men to receive,” Joyce said in a telephone interview.

A spokesman for Catholic Memorial sent a statement to the Register by email: “We are aware that one of our alumni has gone public with his opinion of the school’s selection of Secretary of Labor and former Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh as the recipient of one of our key awards at CM’s Spring 2022 Gala. A few hundred alumni, school families and generous supporters are helping us raise much needed scholarship funds, which are given to more than 60% of our students, many of whom would not be able to attend our school without the aid.”

Peter Folan, the president of Catholic Memorial, declined a request for an interview with the Register through a spokesman.

Walsh’s press secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor could not be reached for comment by deadline.

The school says the spring gala, which is set for a hotel in Norwood, a town about 13 miles southwest of Boston, is sold out.

 Prominent School

Walsh, 54, is a graduate of two other Catholic schools: The Newman School in Boston (formerly known as Newman Preparatory School) and Boston College.

After nearly 17 years in the state Legislature, he served as mayor of Boston from 2014 to 2021, before joining President Joe Biden’s cabinet. He was a trade union president before running for mayor.

He is frequently mentioned as a candidate for higher office, including governor of Massachusetts or U.S. senator.

Founded in 1957, Catholic Memorial is one of the best-known Catholic schools in New England. CM, as it is widely known, frequently wins state championships in hockey and basketball. The school is situated in West Roxbury, a largely residential neighborhood at the southwestern edge of the city of Boston. Its alumni include figures in professional sports, entertainment, and local politics.

According to a brief school history, Cardinal Richard Cushing, then archbishop of Boston, suggested the name “Catholic Memorial” “to commemorate the sesquicentennial of the Archdiocese of Boston as a memorial to all the Catholics who gave so much of themselves in the establishment of educational institutions in the Boston area.” (The archdiocese of Boston was founded in 1808, one of the first four dioceses in the United States carved out of the original diocese of Baltimore, which once covered the whole country.)

The school motto is Vince in Bono Malum, which means “Conquer Evil With Good.”

Tuition at Catholic Memorial for the 2022-2023 school year is $25,450.

 Catholic Memorial and Abortion

Joyce, 75, is a 1964 graduate of Catholic Memorial. He served on the school’s board of directors several decades ago and also served as president of the school’s alumni association. He said he has been a significant donor to the school and has also helped raise funds for it. He also serves on the board of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund, a Massachusetts organization that supports pro-life legal causes.

Joyce told the Register he first raised concerns with school officials about honoring abortion supporters about 15 years ago, when the school was planning to honor Walsh’s predecessor as mayor, Thomas Menino, who also supported abortion through public policy. At the time, Joyce didn’t make public his opposition to the event. This time is different, he said, because school officials don’t seem to have learned the lesson.

“I’m disappointed to do this, because I’ve been a longstanding supporter of Catholic Memorial and I have a lot of friends at Catholic Memorial, and I know that some of them won’t like what I’m doing,” Joyce said. “But I think it’s my duty as a loyal Catholic to speak out in defense of fundamental Catholic values.”

The Massachusetts Pro-Life Coalition, an alliance of eight pro-life organizations, denounced the school for honoring Walsh, saying his “opposition to Catholic morality” is “notorious, impenitent, wide-ranging, and longstanding.”

C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts, which is a member of the coalition, notes that Walsh has clashed with Church teachings on other topics besides abortion.

As a state representative in 2004, Walsh was a key vote helping keep a proposed ballot question from going to the state’s voters that sought to flip the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court’s 4-3 ruling legalizing same-sex civil marriage in the state — which was the first to do so in the country.

As mayor, Walsh put pressure on the sponsors of the annual St. Patrick’s Day parade in South Boston to allow pro-homosexuality advocacy organizations to march in it — using, according to a subsequent lawsuit, profane and threatening language in the process.

 ‘Toxic’ Message

Doyle, a 1971 graduate of the school, calls Catholic Memorial’s decision to give Walsh an award “a grave scandal.”

“The message Catholic Memorial is sending to its students is toxic. By this award, CM is telling its students that support for the mass murder of the unborn is morally acceptable, that those who advocate such killings are respectable members of the Catholic community, and that those who reject Catholic principles, to conform to the dominant secular culture, are role models to be emulated,” Doyle said in a written statement. “No rational person can be reasonably expected to take seriously Catholic opposition to abortion when an elite Catholic educational institution confers an award, named after a future saint, on a politician who wanted to make Boston a sanctuary city for abortions. Faithful Catholics should not have to fight a two-front war, against both a culture of death in secular society, and against a culture of betrayal in their own Church."

Doyle notes that in 2004 the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops published a document called “Catholics in Political Life” decrying abortion and stating: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

Joyce said he wrote a letter to Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, asking him to intervene. He said he got a short response from an aide to Cardinal O’Malley pointing out that Catholic Memorial is not a diocesan school, and instead answers to its board of directors and the religious order that runs it.

Joyce said that a Catholic Memorial official told him that the cardinal has been invited to the gala.

A spokesman for Catholic Memorial, asked if Cardinal O’Malley plans to attend the event, referred the question O’Malley’s office. A spokesman for Cardinal O’Malley, asked for comment and if O’Malley plans to attend the event, referred questions to Catholic Memorial.

Register correspondent Matt McDonald is the editor of New Boston Post.