President Biden, a self-described 'devout Catholic,' will become the first US official in two decades not to attend Notre Dame's commencement ceremony, citing a 'scheduling conflict' according to the Catholic News Agency.
The news comes after 4,600 "members of the Notre Dame community" signed a petition urging college president Fr. John Jenkins not to invite Biden - the second Roman Catholic president, over his stance on abortion, according to Fox News. Of note, Biden was told in February by US Archbishop Joseph Naumann to stop calling himself a 'devout catholic' over his pro-abortion views.
Biden during the week delivered a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy and spoke virtually at the commencement for Syracuse University, his law school alma mater.
For the last three presidencies, either the president or vice president has attended the Notre Dame commencement their first year in office. President George W. Bush gave the commencement address in 2001, President Barack Obama gave the address in 2009 and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the ceremony in 2017. Obama’s attendance drew backlash for similar reasons. -Fox News
According to the petition, Biden should neither speak at the commencement, nor be given an honorary degree. The signatories say they are "dismayed by the pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda of President Joe Biden," adding "He rejects Church teachings on abortion, marriage, sex and gender and is hostile to religious liberty. He embraces the most pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty public policy program in history. The case against honoring him is immeasurably stronger than it was against honoring President Obama."
According to CNA, a university spokesperson said that officials won't comment on potential invitees, and that it wasn't abnormal for a president to miss out on addressing Notre Dame their first year in office.
"While Notre Dame has had more presidents serve as commencement speakers than any university other than the military academies, we have not always hosted a president in his first year in office – or at all," said the spokesperson.
Read the petition below:
Dear Father Jenkins:
We, the undersigned members of the Notre Dame community and others dismayed by the pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda of President Joe Biden, having learned from your Crux interview that you are considering inviting President Biden to be Commencement speaker and, accordingly, recipient of an honorary degree, write to urge that you not do so.
We begin with two preliminary observations about what you said during your interview:
First, the “long tradition” of inviting Presidents as commencement speakers that you cited is not, as you know, unbroken. Neither President Trump nor President Clinton, we understand, was invited. In any case, the facts we relate below should override prior practice, uniform or not.
Second, we certainly agree that the university should be free to invite speakers who disagree with Church teachings, but this is beside the point. It has nothing to do with honoring them, which should be governed by the injunction of the nation’s bishops that
Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.
Biden is such a person writ large. He rejects Church teachings on abortion, marriage, sex and gender and is hostile to religious liberty. He embraces the most pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty public policy program in history. The case against honoring him is immeasurably stronger than it was against honoring President Obama, an action that alienated countless Catholics and brought upon Notre Dame the harsh criticism of 83 cardinals, archbishops and bishops.
We list in the Appendix Biden’s multiple policies and actions that threaten grievous harm to the Church, Notre Dame, Catholics and other persons of faith, and the unborn. More details are provided in a recent Sycamore Trust bulletin.
In brief, to begin with abortion, Biden’s actions already taken and those promised will result in the killing of countless innocent unborn both here and abroad through federal funding of abortions and abortion organizations.
This is not hyperbole. It is demonstrable fact because of Biden’s lifting the bar against the flow of federal funds to both domestic and international Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. The calamity will assume truly harrowing proportions if Biden achieves his goal of providing direct federal funding of abortions.
In terms of Notre Dame’s honoring Biden, matters are made still worse by Biden’s repeated profession of his Catholicism, and one who, as you have acknowledged, believes abortion to be morally wrong.
His is not the familiar “personally opposed but will not impose” dodge of too many Catholic politicians. Rather, his is an inscrutable “personally opposed but nevertheless will promote and enable” stance. It is singularly blameworthy to help people do what one knows to be wrong.
Next, as to issues of sex, gender, and marriage, Biden’s actions already taken and those promised are breathtaking in scope and will undermine the religious liberty of individuals in their private lives, employment, businesses, and social and religious activities and of religious organizations and institutions such as schools, including Notre Dame, hospitals, and adoption agencies.
Denouncing the executive order Biden has already issued, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and four other bishops, all chairman of involved committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB], said:
Wednesday’s executive order threatens to infringe the rights of people who recognize the truth of sexual difference or who uphold the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. This may manifest in mandates that, for example, erode health care conscience rights or needed and time-honored sex-specific spaces and activities.
This followed a broader censure by the president of the Conference, Archbishop Jose’ H. Gomez, that centered on this warning:
[O]ur new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.
For the nation’s foremost Catholic university to honor a person with such an agenda would scream scandal. As Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, the chair of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Committee, has observed,
The fact that President Biden identifies himself as a devout Catholic, while working to preserve and expand legalized abortion, even using tax dollars to fund abortion, presents a unique challenge to the Bishops of the United States. . . . . [T]he President’s actions are confusing Catholics and non-Catholics regarding the Church’s teaching on the evil of abortion.
By honoring Biden, Notre Dame would make a bad situation worse. The University would be seen as little troubled by Biden’s actions, the voice of a more “progressive” Catholic Church. Catholics – including especially Catholic politicians — and others who share Biden’s views would be confirmed in their ruinous error while others would be newly led astray.
(It is not without irony that a principal victim of this muffling of conscience would be the one purportedly honored, Biden himself.)
Notre Dame has long prided itself on its preeminent position in the educational world of the Church. We suggest that its responsibility as such is to guard Church teachings that are crucially important in today’s society by conferring its honors upon those who support them rather than upon those who oppose them, especially the one person above all who has the will and the power to undermine them.