We now have an answer to whether there is a limit to the arrogance of Archbishop Sean O'Malley. It's pretty specific — when he gets called for treating kids like political shills, he'll back off.
The Pope may take instruction from God, O'Malley from the Pope, local bishops from O'Malley, and (most) parish priests from the bishops. On the other hand, the imps of public opinion can nudge even someone with a miter and scepter.
In case you missed it, look at an earlier post. O'Malley and his cohort group told Roman Catholic schools to give all students petitions for the anti-same-sex-marriage ballot initiative. This was on top of instructing all parish priests to support the petition drive by holding them in the churches, appoint parishioners as signature gatherers, and read a strong request that everybody sign up.
As for making the kids take home petitions, only the eager toadies in Fall River immediately implemented this ploy. The school officials there called it part of a civics project. (I wonder whether they would have tried to justify child prostitution as an economics exercise. Nah, not even if O'Malley ordered that.)
Ever on the lookout for sensationalism and scandal, the Boston Herald ran the initial discovery and today got to crow about the publicity making the diocese and its lobbying arm scramble "to distance themselves from a controversial effort to empoy children in an anti-gay-marriage petiton drive." As O'Malley's spokesman Terrence Donilon put it, students "will not and should not be asked to bring home the marriage petition. We made a decision here that we needed to take the message directly to parishioners, parents and people of voting age, and not include schools."
The tabloid also found a psychotherapist, who is a Catholic and the project coordinator for Roman Catholics for the Freedom to Marry. As you might suppose, his latter group is neither anti-gay in Benedict XVI's mold nor as obeisant as the bishops. That Charles Martel said, "It's one thing for adults to make a decision about this issue, but to involve children as a conduit for this type of information is completely inappropriate and a terrible use of education."
We need to watch for what Catholic Citizenship pulls next. Their executive director, Larry Cirignano, apparently got O'Malley to endorse this disgrace, a blessing that appeared in the archiocese newspaper, The Pilot. Saying that Cirignano practices situation ethics is probably the kindest reference we could make.
O'Malley seems to want vert badkt to deliver the faithful, or least their names on paper. You have to wonder what else he is going to pull and what has already slipped by the the Herald has not uncovered.