In a move that will break recent tradition, President Joe Biden will not attend the 2021 commencement for the University of Notre Dame. The decision came after students and alumni of the university petitioned Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins not to invite Biden due to his pro-abortion policies.
For twenty years, the sitting president or vice-president has addressed the graduates of Notre Dame during his first year in office. It began with President George W. Bush in 2001. According to the Catholic News Agency (CNA), Rev. Jenkins did choose to invite Biden, the second Catholic U.S. president, to the Catholic university’s graduation, however, he will not attend, allegedly due to scheduling conflicts.
According to the Washington Examiner, those who signed the petition to exclude him from the ceremony were “dismayed by the pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda of President Joe Biden” and asked that he neither speak at the commencement nor receive an honorary degree.
“He rejects Church teachings on abortion, marriage, sex and gender and is hostile to religious liberty,” the petition read. “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.”
Though President Barack Obama’s 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame caused controversy due to his support of abortion, Biden has become more extreme than Obama in his pro-abortion policies. Under his leadership, his administration aims to allow federal funding of abortion through Medicaid by ending the decades-long, bipartisan Hyde Amendment, and the president also plans to codify Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that legalized abortion, into law. Biden is also taking steps to restore Title X family planning funding to abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood, and to remove FDA safety protocols from the abortion pill, which have been in place for twenty years.
According to the CNA, the opening letter of the petition, signed by more than 4,300 “members of the Notre Dame community,” stated, “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,” it continued. “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.”
Biden attended the 2016 Notre Dame commencement along with former House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio). They each received the Laetare Medal, the highest honor given by the school. According to CNA, the White House expressed hope that Biden would speak at a future Notre Dame commencement during his presidency.
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