About 75 pro-lifers protested Friday near the hotel where Catholic Memorial honored former Boston mayor Marty Walsh, a supporter of legally and publicly funded abortion.
Walsh, the current U.S. Secretary of Labor under President Joe Biden, received the Blessed Edmund Ignatius Rice Award, named after the founder of the Irish Christian Brothers, a religious order that administers the grades-7-through-12 Catholic school in West Roxbury.
Walsh was the headliner of the sold-out spring gala for the school, a fund-raiser.
A giant American flag hung over the entrance to the Four Points Sheraton off Route 1 in Norwood, dangling from a ladder extended from a Boston fire engine. A lone bagpiper played outside the hotel.
About two stone’s throws away, protesters held signs while standing on the 7-foot-wide sidewalk between the breakdown lane and the grass, which hotel security warned protesters to stay off of.
Pre-printed signs said “CM honors ABORTION champion,” with a photo of Walsh in the lower right corner. Some held homemade signs.
Several of the protesters spoke with NewBostonPost, which covered the protest on scene.
One of the protesters, Dr. Francis Bane, is the father of a senior at Catholic Memorial.
“I’m here because I’m trying to teach my son the message that Catholic Memorial should be teaching – what are true Catholic values. I’m very disappointed in the school that they would promote a person as upholding Catholic values who promotes what I would consider the true America genocide, abortion,” said Bane, a Newton resident.
A woman holding a sign near the entrance to the hotel’s driveway said she sees a disconnection between what Walsh supports and what the Roman Catholic Church supports.
“The Church is against abortion. It’s pomp and circumstance. It’s a gala. They’re giving him an award. But it goes directly against what the Church stands for. It’s a contradiction,” said Gina Carme, of Arlington.
In mid-March, when NewBostonPost published a preview story of the Walsh event, a spokesman for Catholic Memorial said the spring gala draws donations that help students attend the school, where tuition for the 2022-2023 school year is $25,450.
The school spokesman said by email in mid-March: “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.”
The alumnus mentioned in the statement is Robert Joyce, a 1964 graduate of Catholic Memorial who once served on the board of directors of the school and helped raise money for it.
Joyce, who attended the protest Friday night, told The National Catholic Register last month: “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. But I think it’s my duty as a loyal Catholic to speak out in defense of fundamental Catholic values.”
Marty Walsh and the Catholic Church
Walsh, 54, served as a state representative from Dorchester, a neighborhood at the southern end of the city of Boston, from 1997 to 2014, when he became mayor of Boston. He resigned as mayor in March 2021 to become U.S. Secretary of Labor in President Biden’s Cabinet.
As a public official, Walsh, who identifies as a Catholic, has taken several positions at loggerheads with the Catholic Church.
As a state representative during the first decade of the 2000s, Walsh voted against a measure that would have sent a ballot question to the state’s voters asking them if they wanted to overturn a Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court decision that declared a right to same-sex marriage.
As mayor, in February 2016, Walsh received the “Men For Choice” award from 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 places in the United States 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.”
On Friday night, the early evening started out with a bright cloudy sky, almost pleasant in the low 50s, but later turned windy and chilly.
NewBostonPost asked protesters why they came.
“This guy says he’s a Catholic and he’s not. … He says he’s a nice guy, and he’s not. He’s killing children,” said Sean Brogan, of Cambridge.
Farther north on the Boston-Providence Highway, as Route 1 is known in Norwood, two men stood holding signs.
“They’re honoring Marty Walsh, who’s a pro-abortionist, at a Catholic dinner. I’m here because I hate to see politicians who are standing 180 degrees against the Catholic positions being honored,” said Bill Wolf, of Walpole.
“Yeah, it’s hypocrisy. I guess that’s what they’d call that,” added Pat O’Donnell, of Quincy, who was standing nearby. “It’s selling out. But for what? They’re betraying their principles for the honor of people? … It’s a scandal.”
A young woman in the passenger seat of a passing car yelled out “Die, —holes!” Wolf and O’Donnell seemed to take no notice.
Some passersby honked their horns in support.
C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts and a 1971 graduate of Catholic Memorial, who helped organize the protest, said he noticed a difference between motorists who expressed support for the protesters and motorists who expressed opposition.
“People driving by are giving us thumbs-up,” Doyle said. “People going into the event are giving us digital salutes.”
The sponsor of the protest was the Massachusetts Pro-Life Coalition, which includes nine organizations that oppose abortion: Operation Rescue Boston; Mass Resistance; the Massachusetts Alliance to Stop Taxpayer Funded Abortions; the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund; the Boston Church Militant Resistance Chapter; the Boston Chapter of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; American University Women for Life; the Massachusetts Family Institute; and the Catholic Action League of Massachusetts.
William Cotter, the spokesman for the coalition and president of Operation Rescue Boston, said he hopes the protest reaches the consciences of the organizers of the Walsh award.
“The reason we’re here is we have another scandal in the Catholic community – a major Catholic school giving honors to a man who supports abortion, child-killing,” Cotter said. “… In what way does he merit an award from a Catholic school? … We hope this will induce some shame in what they’re doing.”
One protester, Colbe Mazzarella, of East Boston, made a reference to a 2004 document of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops called “Catholics in Political Life,” which criticizes abortion and also says: “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.”
“I’m here because the Catholic Church is very clear that this should not happen – giving a platform and honors to people who oppose Catholic teaching. There’s a great need for laypeople to come out and get that rule applied,” said Mazzarella, a member of the board of the Pro-Life Legal Defense Fund.
Doyle said he was surprised at the turnout, which he expected to be less. He called the protest “a wonderful thing” and “a very encouraging sign of Catholic solidarity.”
“The very fact that people protest is a sign of hope,” Doyle said.
Editor’s Note: A 32-second video from a drive-by of the protest is below. Beneath that are still photos.
A fire engine suspends a giant American flag over the entrance to the Four Points Sheraton hotel in Norwood, Massachusetts on Friday, April 1, 2022.
Sean Brogan, of Cambridge, holds a sign protesting the Catholic Memorial award to Walsh. Photos by M.J. McDonald.
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