He offers a broader context, relating how the protesting alumnus shared his concerns privately with the college, but received no response. He also gives the full context of the president's defense, which has been discussed in comments here, but I offer again:
Despite Matthews's copious comments in defense of abortion (he has uttered flat-out on several occasions "I am pro-choice"), McFarland told the paper Matthews "said he feels abortion is immoral. Where he would differ from some Catholics is on the role of government and how intrusive government should be in controlling this. It's a matter of practical judgment. That's allowable in Catholic thought."
This perspective has, of course, been dissected forever, including in these here comment boxes. So I'll just add my own personal observation:
Do you know the problem with the "personally-opposed to abortion, but we live in a pluralistic society, can't force my views on anyone" crowd? They're ultimately a bunch of liars, no more and no less. Well, maybe more. Why? Because there is never any evidence at all of their opposition to abortion beyond their words. Let's put it this way: I've been involved in the pro-life movement off and on for twenty years. I've worked with national organizations like Feminists for Life. I've worked on the local level. I've answered phones in centers offering alternatives to women in crisis pregnancies. I've sorted baby clothes and organized diapers. I've sat in countless meetings at every level of the movement. I've done scads of public speaking on the issue.
And in all that activity, meeting with all of those people, not once have I ever encountered a person, also working at those tasks, who said he or she was personally opposed but pro-choice.
The "personally opposed" don't do squat to try to help women and girls make life-affirming choices. The only people that are doing that are the people who are opposed to abortion, proud to say they're pro-life and believe that it should be discouraged by any moral means possible, including, dare we say it, the law. The personally opposed but pro-choice are not, in reality, where it counts - saving lives - really opposed to abortion. And they should just stop trying to absolve their own consciences by uttering empty words and just admit it: they really don't care if kids are being killed down the street. Because if they cared they'd be doing something about it, in some way, no matter how small. And my experience, at least, tells me that they can't be bothered.
Not the rest of us are doing as much as we could - or should - either, mind you.
As usual, commenters and other bloggers have helped me clarify my thinking. What I was really thinking of here were people who are in positions of power, responsibility and influence, or who are of the activist temperment. Certainly, all of us hold a myriad of positions of various issues and important matters, and we can't be involved or do something about all of them. I may be concerned about everything from the situation in the Congo to problems of health care for the poor in this country to oppression in North Korea to the idiocy that passes for modern education, but I can't be involved in every single cause. Just can't. So sure - there are plenty of people out there who don't like abortion, who live that in their own lives and choices but don't get involved in activism. Those aren't the people I called liars.
No, I'm talking about politicians and government officials who piously cry that they are "personally opposed" while consistently voting with NARAL and NOW, down the line, 100%, or who do nothing to use the power they have to actively nurture and support alternatives to abortion or education programs on the nature of abortion. I'm talking about people involved in communications in media who do nothing to try to balance the way that this issue is portrayed in the media. I'm talking about activists - in the secular world, and in the Church, too - who say that they are really, really dismayed by abortion, and then proceed to scold, scold, scold pro-lifers for being "single issue" and not focusing on the "root causes" of abortion, telling them that they should really be in the business of helping women and education, instead of wasting all their time on legislative issues. Now, if these personally opposed activist types actually were involved in the abortion issue just the tiniest, littlest bit they would know, of course, that perhaps 90% of what pro-lifers do in their organizations is all about helping women, children and families, and education. They would know this. But they don't know this, because, you see, despite their great concern for the issues of the day, they are not actually involved in trying to do anything about abortion, so they have no freaking clue what the pro-life movement is really all about.
So those were the people I was talking about. The people who say they don't like abortion. The people who have the power to do something about it. The people who scold the other people who are actually doing something about this thing they say they abhor. The people who, at the close of the day, have done nothing with the power, influence and responsibility that they have to work on diminishing this practice they say they oppose.