Raymond Leo Flynn, husband, father and grandfather, politician, diplomat, author, athlete, loyal son of the Church: the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology salutes you.
Our task as a school is to educate. “Today, a particularly insidious obstacle to the task of educating is the massive presence in our society and culture of that relativism which, recognizing nothing as definitive, leaves as the ultimate criterion only the self with its desires. And under the semblance of freedom it becomes a prison for each one, for it separates people from one another, locking each person into his or her own “ego”” (Pope Benedict XVI, Address to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, June 6, 2005).
Throughout your distinguished career, you have openly professed your faith in Christ, and have stood for the dignity of the human person that your friend and spiritual father, Pope John Paul II, proclaimed to be the definitive end and goal of the political community. Through your witness and example, you have taught us that political success need never be at the cost of a relativism that would compromise the truth about the human person.
You have never forgotten your roots in South Boston, where your father, Stephen, worked as a union longshoreman and your mother, Lillian, was a cleaning woman. You have proclaimed the dignity of human work, and the Church"s preferential option for the poor. In June 2001 you wrote: “Pope John Paul II, in his final speech of his 1995 U.S. tour, said we must make “the common good the end and criterion regulating all public and social life.” Like all others who have served in public office, I swore a Constitutional oath to “promote the general welfare.” We've got to stop waging war on the poor!”
Educated at Providence College, you were an All American basketball player; in the year 2000 your fellow Bostonians voted you South Boston’s Greatest Athlete of the Century.
You served the people of your city and state in the Massachusetts House of Representatives from 1971 until 1978, and on the Boston City Council from 1978 until 1983. From 1984 until 1993 you served as the most popular Mayor in the history of Boston. Having inherited a $40 million deficit, you led your city into the greatest period of growth in its history, and implemented a billion dollar capital improvement plan that rebuilt or renovated nearly every park, playground, school and municipal building in the city. When you left office in 1993, it was said of you that almost half of the population of the city of Boston had met you in person. While serving as Mayor of Boston you also served as chairman of the U.S. Conference of Mayors” Committee on Hunger and Homelessness; some of your urban policy proposals were adopted in federal legislation: the community Housing Partnership Act, and the Competitive Cities Act. You helped to write and to lobby for the passage of the McKinney Homeless Assistance Act, the first federal legislation on behalf of the homeless.
In 1993 President Bill Clinton appointed you United States Ambassador to the Holy See. You assisted in the establishment of full diplomatic relations between the Vatican and the State of Israel, and were instrumental in establishing cooperation between the Holy See and the United States government to deliver humanitarian aid to countries suffering from natural disasters, famine, disease and political unrest. Your love and admiration for Pope John Paul II is witnessed in your book, John Paul II, the Pope and the Man.
Since the completion of your term as ambassador in 1997, you have worked tirelessly to encourage and foster responsible citizenship through your appearances on local and national radio and television, and in the press. You have also insisted upon the fact that the Church has an appropriate role to play in engaging social and political concerns. You have served in executive and advisory roles for such lay Catholic political advocacy organizations as Your Catholic Voice, Catholic Citizenship, and Catholics for the Common Good.
In his Encyclical Letter Centesimus Annus, Pope John Paul II wrote of the Church that “she continues to be “a sign and safeguard of the transcendence of the human person,” as indeed she has always sought to be from the beginning of her existence, walking together with man through history.” The Church walks with man and woman to safeguard and protect a dignity of which they may be unaware; the Church accomplishes this work of Christ through her own members. You have placed your life at the service of this work.
We are truly grateful that you have consented to collaborate with us as a Fellow of the School. Therefore, as an expression of our esteem and gratitude, and in virtue of the authority invested in me by the Board of Trustees of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, I am privileged to bestow upon you, Raymond Leo Flynn, the degree of Doctor of Humane Letters honoris causa, and to name you as a Fellow of the School.