Antiabortion groups have denounced O'Malley, the Boston Globe reports. The church headquarters in Braintree outside Boston has received numerous critical telephone calls and e-mails.
Other Catholics came to O'Malley's defense Thursday. The Rev. Michael McFarland, president of the College of the Holy Cross, suggested the news media had blown the controversy out of proportion.
"These people are self-appointed, they have no authority, and they're so full of venom. I don't think they represent the Christian and Catholic position of the church, or the reality of the church, which is people struggling every day to put these things all together to care for one another and reflect the Gospel in their lives,'' McFarland said.
Kennedy, the most prominent Catholic layman in Massachusetts and brother of the first Catholic president, remained a member of the church in spite of his support of abortion rights and his complicated private life, which included divorce and remarriage.