As many of you likely already know, it was recently announced that President Joe Biden will not address the 2021 graduates of Notre Dame University at their commencement. Biden was invited to speak at Notre Dame by President Fr. John Jenkins, CSC. The reason given for Biden not doing so was that the occasion conflicted with his schedule.
News articles mentioned Biden’s not speaking at Notre Dame in the context of an open letter to Fr. Jenkins sponsored by the Sycamore Trust requesting that Biden not be invited. The letter cited Biden’s support of abortion, same-sex marriage, gender ideology, and his hostility toward religious freedom as reasons that the university ought not invite the second Catholic president of the United States to speak. The letter cites “the injunction of the nation’s bishops that ‘Catholic institutions should not honor those who are in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.'”
The letter says that, “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.”
The letter insists that Notre Dame honoring Biden would be especially egregious because Biden portrays himself as a devout Catholic who believes abortion is morally wrong. As such, the letter says, “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.”
It is clear that Notre Dame gives no consideration at all to the injunction of the U. S. bishops that Catholic institutions not honor those who defy Church teaching, even on central articles of moral teaching such as abortion. Notre Dame, it seems, desires more to be considered an important university by the secular world rather than a strong and consistent witness to the gospel and to the intrinsic dignity of the human person. That is unfortunate but not surprising. Too many Catholics over the centuries have found justification for abandoning their duty to the gospel in favor of worldly honors and recognition. That the “flagship” Catholic university in the United States, and one dedicated to Our Lady, should do so is a poor testament to the Catholic Church in America.
Be Christ for all. Bring Christ to all. See Christ in all.