Joe Biden will skip an opening ceremony traditionally attended by presidents amid an argument over his views in favor of abortion at the Catholic university.
Biden’s administration will be the first since Bill Clinton’s to skip the University of Notre Dame opening ceremony, after more than 4,000 students and alumni signed a petition urging school officials to do not invite the president on his pro-choice point of view on abortion.
A White House official told the Catholic News Agency on May 11 that the president was invited to give an opening speech and receive an honorary degree from the school, but would not be present due to a scheduling conflict.
Instead, school officials announced earlier this month that CFO and administrator Jimmy Dunne would address graduates early Sunday.
President Joe Biden will not speak at the University of Notre Dame graduation ceremony, breaking a tradition in which administration officials speak to graduates during their first year in office. He previously spoke to students at the school in 2016
The University of Notre Dame is a private Catholic school in Indiana
This is the first time since the Clinton administration in the 1990s that neither a president nor a vice president has given the keynote address during his first year in office.
President Trump also skipped the ceremony – traditionally attended by presidents in their first year in office – to visit Saudi Arabia in 2017.
But Trump, who presented himself as a decidedly anti-abortion president, sent his vice president Mike Pence instead.
It is not known if Vice President Kamala Harris has been invited to speak.
“ Although Notre Dame has had more presidents as opening speakers than any university other than military academies, we haven’t always welcomed a president in their first year in office – or not at all, ” a school spokesperson told CNA, noting John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Richard Nixon and Donald Trump never addressed Notre Dame graduates.
Former Vice President Mike Pence gave the opening speech instead in 2017, after Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins expressed concern over former President Donald Trump‘s invitation to his immigration perspective.
Biden said he was staunchly pro-choice and condemned recent efforts by U.S. states to limit access to abortion.
He did so despite being a devout Catholic, with the presidential church renowned for its vocal and firm stance against abortion in almost all circumstances.
Former President Barack Obama‘s invitation also came under close scrutiny because of his views on abortion, but students and alumni wrote in a letter to Jenkins that the arguments against honoring Biden ` “ are immeasurably stronger than honoring President Obama, ” claiming Biden had a goal. to “provide direct federal funding for abortions.”
George W. Bush spoke at the Notre Dame graduation ceremony in 2001, praising the denominational school
President Barack Obama was invited to speak during his first year in office in 2009
Obama’s invitation met with criticism from anti-abortion supporters
âIt rejects the Church’s teaching on abortion, marriage, sex and gender and is hostile to religious freedom,â wrote students, alumni and other members of the community. Catholic University in their online petition. “He adheres to the most pro-abortion and anti-religious freedom public policy program in history.”
They argued that his “ actions already taken and those promised will result in the murder of countless unborn innocents at home and abroad through federal funding from abortion and abortion organizations ” and “ by honoring Biden, Notre Dame would make a bad situation worse. ”
“ The university would be considered little disturbed by Biden’s actions, ” reads the petition, which was signed by 4,300 members of the Notre Dame community, adding: “ Catholics – including in particular Catholic politicians – and others who share Biden’s views would be confirmed in their ruinous error while others would be newly led astray.
‘We suggest that [the university’s] the responsibility … is to protect the teachings of the Church which are of crucial importance in today’s society by bestowing its honors on those who support them rather than those who oppose them, by especially the one person above all who has the will and the power to undermine them. ‘
White House officials have said they hope the president can speak at the Catholic school in the future.
He did it before in 2016, when he joined former House Speaker John Boehner at his opening ceremony.
The history of Our Lady of the presidential orators
Many past presidents have spoken at the school, including Ronald Reagan, who attended the school’s establishment in 1981
It was a happy accident that began the tradition of the Catholic university of making the presidents speak during the opening ceremonies.
In 1960, Father Hesburgh booked President Eisenhower two weeks before graduation. The other four he invited had other commitments.
The next president to speak early was Jimmy Carter in 1977, followed four years later by Ronald Reagan on his first visit out of Washington since an assassination attempt.
In 1992, President George HW Bush came, with his son giving his opening address in 2001 – declaring that faith-based organizations were at the heart of the war on poverty.
Eight years passed before Obama’s turn, but not without people taking up arms. The pro-life movement protested against the pro-choice president.
And in 2017, the school heard from Vice President Mike Pence rather than President Donald J. Trump.