Biden Debases Laetare Medal As Students Bolster Notre Dame’s Catholic Identity

Laetare Medal awardee @JoeBiden's recent trashing of Church teaching on abortion contrasts with @NotreDame Catholic student organizations' support of the University's Catholic character. #GoCatholicND Click To Tweet

Following our last bulletin about an Irish Rover investigative report, we write today principally about Notre Dame’s Catholic student organizations, but the recent feticidal outburst by Notre Dame honoree President Joe Biden claims priority of place.

President Biden, the debasing of the Laetare Medal, and a lucky break for Notre Dame.

Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal is awarded each year to a Catholic who is supposed to have “ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

In 2016, Father John I. Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, unaccountably selected then Vice President Joe Biden as the Laetare Medal honoree notwithstanding his support for abortion and same-sex marriage and the objection of Notre Dame’s bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades.

Now Biden’s recent blistering assault on Texas’s new anti-abortion law demonstrates anew how undeserving he was of the honor bestowed.

In a press conference and a statement, Biden declared himself “a strong supporter of Roe v. Wade” and disavowed the view that “life begins at the moment of conception.” 

He asserted that the “almost un-American” Texas law “blatantly violates” Roe and “unleashes constitutional chaos.” 

And he assailed the Supreme Court’s permitting the law to go into effect as “an unprecedented assault” on Roe v. Wade that “insults the rule of law.” 

He thereupon announced “a whole-of-government effort” to overturn the Texas law and insure that no targeted unborn child would escape the Texas abortionist’s knife.

So instructed, Attorney General Merrick Garland has filed a lawsuit to put the abortionists back in business.

Joe Biden awarded Notre Dame's Laetare Medal

This pro-abortion eruption by Biden has added an exclamation point to the catalog of actions and statements we have listed in earlier bulletins showing his unsuitability for the Laetare Medal and as a potential Notre Dame commencement speaker.

Luckily, Biden’s rejection of Father Jenkins’s invitation to be commencement speaker has spared Notre Dame the embarrassment Biden’s intensified promotion of abortion would have caused. But this latest episode stands as a silent reproach to those responsible for awarding him the Laetare Medal in the first place.

Biden has once again, this time with striking determination, trashed “the ideals of the Church” celebrated by that award, ideals that are reflected in the teaching that 

Human life must be respected and protected absolutely from the moment of conception

and that

The inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation. (Catechism of the Catholic Church 2270, 2273)

The Irish Rover

“Upholding the Catholic Character of the University of Notre Dame” 

While university staff encouraged the muting of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity during Welcome Week for freshmen, as the Irish Rover reported in the article republished in our last bulletin, we are pleased to report that there are student voices unembarrassed by the school’s Catholic character. 

The Irish Rover’s is one. With that publication’s consent, we reprint here (with minor elisions) the editor-in-chief’s welcome to freshmen

A Message from the Editor-in-Chief

My dear freshmen, embrace this time, with all its chaos and novelty. College life begins this side of Welcome Weekend, and you have four precious years (which, I might add, slip by all too quickly) to learn and grow. You are faced with daunting questions: Who do I want to be? In what direction am I being called? To what should I devote my time? How on earth does the room numbering system in Debart work?

These are questions worth pondering, both freshman year and every year. Answers come gradually. And, as in the case of the last question, complete certainty is often impossible. Yet, hope finds a path forward through the myriad queries of our college years. The important thing is to ask these questions, to live—if I may—the examined life, intentionally cultivating goodness, truth, and beauty through your years at Notre Dame.

The Irish Rover offers a distinct perspective from which to approach these questions of identity, vocation, and passion. Since 2003, we have worked to promote the Catholic identity of the university, for it is under Our Lady’s mantle that we can most freely and truly pursue the good life. Through coverage of campus news, politics, religion, and culture, the Rover contributes a valuable voice to campus dialogue—a voice shaped by faith, tradition, and a genuine pursuit of truth.

Our mission is simple: to promote the Catholic identity of this university, to articulate conservative principles, and to engage in collegial debate. The Rover seeks to facilitate the desire expressed in the university’s mission statement for “a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.”

The Rover is always eager for new writers, so please reach out if you are interested in joining our ever-growing team of staff writers. You can email me at to express interest, or stop by our booth at activities night on Monday, August 30. Additionally, I encourage all readers to stay in the know by following our social media accounts (@IrishRoverND on Twitter and Instagram) and bookmarking our website (

As we begin this new academic year, I invite you to contemplate anew the questions posed by college life. The Rover offers companionship along the journey to answers, and we begin this year with our gaze firmly fixed on the cross. After all, it is in Christ that we find the answers to the deepest desires of our hearts. It is through a life with Christ that these answers unfurl, beautifully and gradually revealed by grace. What a beautiful adventure!

May your time at Notre Dame be marked by growth, joy, prayer, peace, and an undefeated football season!

Mary Frances Myler
Editor in Chief

Sycamore Trust Note: The Rover is fortunate to have as its faculty advisors a group of Notre Dame’s very best scholars and teachers. All those who love Notre Dame and her Catholic identity should consider subscribing to the Rover — both to support the work of its dedicated staff and to stay informed about matters that relate to their purpose, “Upholding the Catholic Character of the University of Notre Dame”

Other Student Organizations

Happily, the Irish Rover is sided by a number of other vibrant student organizations dedicated to various aspects of Catholic life.

Notre Dame Right to Life, for example, is the University’s largest student club, and its letter of invitation to freshmen describing the wide range of its activities is excellent. It is here.

We will draw attention in later bulletins to other of these organizations, but you can learn more about them now in our bulletin on the most recent Notre Dame Day. The clubs include Children of Mary, Jus Vitae (Law School Right to Life), Knights of Columbus, Militia of the Immaculata, ND Identity Project (Edith Stein Conference), and SCOP (Students for Child-Oriented Society.

The leaders and members of these organizations play a crucial role in sustaining the Catholic character of Notre Dame. We have increasingly come to view supporting them as a very important part of Sycamore Trust’s mission. You can assist them financially by earmarking contributions to the University for the benefit of any of them, and in the case of the Rover, an independent tax-exempt organization, by direct gifts here.


A brief comment on the Texas law

The Texas “heart beat” law is an almost total ban on abortions after about six weeks of pregnancy. It is plainly unconstitutional under existing Supreme Court decisions. 

The catch is that, because the Texas legislature deliberately took enforcement out of the hands of public officers and placed it with private parties through civil damage actions, and since no one has yet sued for damages, federal courts up to the Supreme Court have turned aside challenges to the law by abortion providers as premature. The new lawsuit by the United States might, or might not, fare better, and state courts might take a different view of the matter. 

In any case, the Texas ruckus is a sideshow to the so-called Dobbs case to be argued in the Supreme Court this fall, as Sycamore Trust vice president Charles A. Donovan, president of the Charlotte Lozier Institute, and Notre Dame law school professor O. Carter Snead pointed out in a C-Span Washington Journal appearance and a Washington Post op-ed, respectively. 

Source: C-Span Washington Journal

As both stressed, abortion law will be settled by the Court’s decision in Dobbs, which involves a Mississippi ban on abortion after 15 weeks. The State and scores of amici curiae are urging the Court variously to overrule, or at least sharply limit, Roe v. Wade. 

Notre Dame professors Richard W. Garnett and O. Carter Snead and law school professor emeritus John M. Finnis are co-authors of outstanding amici briefs here and here and here. And Sycamore Trust board member Mary Rice Hasson and Secretary and board member Elizabeth R. Kirk are among the amici curiae scholars on whose behalf yet another brief has been filed. Charlotte Lozier Institute, meanwhile, filed its own brief (here) on the science of fetal development.

Leave a Reply

 Let us know what you think about the issues we’ve raised in this bulletin in the comments below. And help to spread the word by sharing this bulletin with others who care about Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. 

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If you are like us and want to see an authentic Catholic renewal at Notre Dame, please consider lending a hand by making a donation to Sycamore Trust.


17 Responses to “Biden Debases Laetare Medal As Students Bolster Notre Dame’s Catholic Identity”

  1. As with Theodore McCarrick, Mr. Biden must be stripped of the Laetare Medal.

    Hopefully, I have not conflated the Laetare Medal of Biden to an award to McCarrick.

    Bob Neidert

  2. Steven Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) September 19, 2021 at 7:38 am

    Would that the Holy Spirit would grant me the facility to concisely and cogently lay to rest the dangerous and deceptive myth that the Democrat Party in our Nation has any genuine or legitimate planks in its platform, or concerns, for the message and mission of Scripture or of God. It is ultimate and extreme heresy and blasphemy to indulge the belief that mankind, or a given political party, could ever accomplish what the Son of God elected not to effectuate for mankind. Jesus, Himself, did not heal all who were ill, He did not eradicate disease or poverty from the earth, He did not ease all sufferings, He did not change our world’s climate, and He assuredly did not promise or extend to humanity the license to indulge in sexual intimacy without consequence or responsibility. The example of the life of Jesus is to endure suffering and to take up each Cross on one’s path. We are called to seek and manifest integrity to Truth, intellectual, academic, personal, psychological, and spiritual integrity. We are called to recognize and deepen man’s inherent understanding of, and reverence for, a unitive and unique Faith in the one true Triune God–not in man or man’s clumsy attempts at politics and governance. It is clear to me that the Democrat Party, from and since FDR, does not seek to fulfill God’s will but to usurp it. Any party or movement that embraces and extols legalized genocidal infanticide within the womb, and sexual deviance and license and pornography, and the establishment of, and enslavement by, the welfare system, and many various pernicios tenets of socialism and communism, in denial of more noble attributes of human nature toward industriousness and personal and social responsibility of the individual–such a party and platform is anti-man, anti-Scripture, anti-Truth, and anti-God, fully and forever.

  3. I am totally against abortion but am a democrat because of everything else the party does which I consider totally in line with Church teachings. This gives me great sadness. All rancor from both sides also must cease.

    • I quite agree that rancor poisons rational discussion and should cease, and I might note what should be obvious, namely, that our bulletin does not deal with voting but rather with the question whether a Catholic university should honor the Church’s most formidable adversary on abortion. The bishops say it should not. Notre Dame’s deliberately ignored that injunction and Biden’s recent actions underscore the gravity of its scandalous action.

  4. Recall that, when Obama was given an honorary degree upon his first election, that Father Jenkins, referencing Obama’s strong pro-abortion stance, opined that there should be an on-going “dialog” with our new president. What, if anything, has ever come of that?

    • What became of that was that John Jenkins had many protesters outside at Obama’s graduation speech arrested and reportedly insisted the prosecutors take a hard line on the protesters. Obama spoke and told Jenkins what to do and Jenkins happily obeyed like a good priest would do when instructed by a Democrat politician. Now that’s the “dialogue” Jenkins envisions- tell Jenkins what to do, even if it contradicts the Catechism, and he’ll happily do it in exchange for some speakers like Obama, Biden, Ruth Bader Ginsburg and others coming to campus and hear misguided students chant things like “Justice Ruth speaks the truth!” with Jenkins gleefully sitting on stage with her. No word on whether she patted him on the head and gave him a biscuit treat, but there reportedly was no dialogue regarding respect for principles of the Catholic Catechism that night and no defense or explanation of the faith to those who did not know which side to choose, no obvious effort to get the speaker to find areas of the Catholic faith that the speaker could agree with. When it comes to stories about Jesus speaking to the public, Jesus frequently gets challenged by the crowd and persuades them, but when it comes to Democrats speaking to the public, you better listen happily and cheer or something involving the police or punishment may happen.

  5. Charles A Penna ‘56 September 17, 2021 at 7:47 am

    Should there be a petition to remove Father Anti Ted the Head as John suggests ?

  6. please ND become Catholic again. Get rid of Jenkins and the Board of directors. All Catholics need to pray for ND.Ronald Herman MD ’57

  7. Steve Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) September 17, 2021 at 5:02 am

    The numbers of ND athletes, faculty, staff and students who truly honor and revere and sustain and live the traditions and values of Notre Dame are small and shrinking each year. Tragically, for at least the past decade, our beloved University has reached a “critical mass” in each and all those groups who are symbolically and literally “critical of Mass.” Last month, on the Eve of the Feast of the Assumption of Mary, Archbishop Vigano issued a call to prayer and action for all devout Catholics to pray for Exorcism of evil. Follow that call daily, with me, to pray for exorcism of the influence of evil from our Church, our Nation, our University, and our hearts.Seek the intercession of Our Lady and St. Michael to call down the fullest power of our Triune God to command and expel satan in the names of the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit. (Know that these demons require fasting with unceasing prayer. ) We must work our Faith in these end-times’ battles. Amen? Steve

  8. I applaud those many current students that cherish Notre Dame’s Catholic tradition and mystique that is no longer supported by the administration and its trustees. They have a moral compass for truth and decency that Biden and Jenkins lack.

  9. It saddens me to be forced to acknowledge that Norte Dame’s catholic identity has been lost. John Jenkins has erased it. I will continue to cheer for out athletes and all our undergrads, but I will no longer support ND financially. I urge my fellow alumni to also cease contributing to our alma mater. ND has provided cover to pro abortion politicians since the infamous Mario Cuomo speech. We should not be a part of that through our donations.
    NBC ‘74

  10. Steven Martinek '71, '74 (earlier times and values) September 16, 2021 at 7:22 pm

    The Laetare Medal is, intrinsically and explicitly, a “Catholic award.” Under Jenkins, UND has shown itself sinfully negligent in exercising the fiduciary duty of awarding any Catholic honors or awards. Someone should file a canon lawsuit, with the Vatican, seeking injunctive relief to bar and prohibit UND from ever again awarding the Laetare or any similar Catholic award.

  11. Paul Joseph Devitt September 16, 2021 at 6:05 pm

    I agree the Laetare Medal should be rescinded from Mr. Biden with prejudice as soon as possible and a public apology issued from Fr. Jenkins and the Notre Dame Trustees that erred so badly in judgment in giving him this award. As Trustees they should be fiduciaries of Notre Dame’s historically good reputation (built by others) in accordance with its stated Mission. They have failed us in this responsibility. Inviting Mr. Biden to the commencement this year reflects Fr. Jenkin’s and Notre Dame’s Trustees’ stubbornness to please certain people and not God, even in the face of overt evil.

    Sadly its seems that Notre Dame’s leaders are too willing to embrace the world and all of its entrapments – acting in the safe middle ground along with so many quisling bishops. Their zeitgeist is grounded in modernism with its Hegelian dialectic materialism. Truth does not need to apologize or fear what others think. Christ himself told us that they will hate us since they hated him first. That’s the legacy of the cross and truth.

    The co-awarding of the Laetare medal to Biden and Boehner as a kind of apolitical compromise to make a ND statement about setting aside political partisanship so we might all get along typifies the Fr. Jenkins era at ND. This is what the Laetare Medal has been reduced to.

  12. I saw my son in the picture of the UND kids at the Right to Life rally in D.C. 2020 – Praise the Lord for the huge student participation in the Right to Life coalition on campus. We sure do miss that kid, he is in London for a semester. Thank you UND for opening the Study Abroad this Fall and thank you Sycamore Trust for the encouraging article on things worth fighting for.

  13. Edward J Knauf '81 September 16, 2021 at 4:35 pm

    Let’s petition the Trustees and Administration of our putative Catholic Alma Mater to rescind the President’s Laetare Medal award.

    If one so thoroughly rejects core tenets of the Faith, how can such an award be allowed to stand? It makes a mockery of both the award and the University.

  14. Biden’s total mentality is that of a populist. In my personal opinion, there is no rule Biden would break, if it increased his popularity amongst voters. The BOTTOM LINE, he has no core values. If the Bishop of Wilmington has a backbone, he will ask Biden not embarrass the church by receiving communion.

  15. Excellent analysis. Father Jenkins should be terminated. On repeated occasions, he makes the wrong (and at times, immoral) decisions.

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