President Joe Biden on Sunday will break a 20-year tradition of a president or vice president delivering a commencement address at the University of Notre Dame during the first year of a new presidency.
Sources at the White House claimed the school had invited Biden to speak, but said the nation’s second Roman Catholic president is unable to attend because of a scheduling conflict, according to the Catholic News Agency (CNA). Jimmy Dunne, who is a finance executive and trustee of the university, will address the graduates instead.
Former President George W. Bush delivered a commencement address at the school in 2001, followed by former President Barack Obama in 2009 and former Vice President Mike Pence in 2017.
Biden’s scheduling conflict comes as a petition circulates among the Catholic university demanding that Notre Dame President Fr. John I. Jenkins neither invite the president nor give him an honorary degree because of the many policies he supports in open defiance of Church teaching. More than 4,300 students, alumni, and other members of the community signed the petition as of Sunday.
— sycamoretrust (@sycamoretrust) February 20, 2021
Citing the injunction of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), which said, “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the petition said in part:
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 petition went on to detail specific policies Biden supports that promote abortion, contraception, homosexuality, transgender behavior, and the repeal of religious exemptions for institutions that oppose such things.
“For the nation’s foremost Catholic university to honor a person with such an agenda would scream scandal,” the petition added.
Biden and other pro-abortion Catholic politicians face potential rebuke from the USCCB when they convene for their annual meeting in June. As The Daily Wire reported:
During their next annual meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Committee on Doctrine will be drafting a document that will clarify their position regarding the longstanding question of how to handle Catholic politicians in open defiance of Church teaching on abortion, according to The Associated Press.
Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, who is chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on Pro-Life Activities, has publicly and repeatedly rebuked Biden for supporting abortion, going so far as to say the president “should stop defining himself as a devout Catholic.”
“Because President Biden is Catholic, it presents a unique problem for us,” Naumann told the AP. “It can create confusion. … How can he say he’s a devout Catholic and he’s doing these things that are contrary to the church’s teaching?”