Biden, Abortion, and Notre Dame Commencement Redux

What part of "clear" "grave" "obligation" does @JoeBiden not understand? #CoCatholicND Click To Tweet

We open this bulletin with the first pro-abortion dividend of President Biden’s opposition to the Hyde Amendment and continue with some additional information we have just come across that bears upon our Open Letter to Father Jenkins urging him not to invite President Biden to be Commencement speaker. (We reproduce that Letter below and invite those who have not signed to join now.)  

COVID-19 Relief Act and the Hyde Amendment

We have previously reported how, in his campaign for the nomination, Biden reversed his long-standing support of the Hyde Amendment prohibiting the use of federal money to provide abortions, a provision that has saved an estimated 2 million lives since 1976.

We described also how this provision was supported from 1976 until now by both parties in Congress and both Democratic and Republican presidents.

The Covid-19 relief legislation just passed by Congress and signed by President Biden accorded the first opportunity for President Biden and pro-abortion Congressional forces to begin funneling taxpayer money to abortion providers. The law provides $50 million to Planned Parenthood and large sums for  purposes such as health care, foreign aid, and local and state government uses that had traditionally been subject to the Hyde restriction.

As related in a National Review article by Alexandra DeSanctis (ND ’16 and a Sycamore Board member), several Republican Senators proposed adding the Hyde Amendment to these provisions. 

The amendments failed. 

So did a plea by Archbishop Joze’ H. Gomez, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and seven episcopal chairmen of USCCB committes. 

Buyer’s Remorse has swiftly set in for Pro-Life Evangelicals for Biden, who now lament “We feel used and betrayed” by Biden for his abandonment of the Hyde Amendment and question “whether we are still welcome in the Democratic Party.”

And so the acceleration of the carnage begins. 

Father Jenkins to ND Trustees: It’s OK, he’s not Catholic. 

As our readers will doubtless remember, the 2009 Commencement with President Obama at its center was a world-class calamity.

The Center for Bio Ethical Reform (CBR) protests the selection of President Barack Obama as Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement speaker | AP Image

Notre Dame’s bishop, The Most Rev. John M. D’Arcy, condemned Notre Dame’s honoring of this pro-abortion president, and he was joined by 82 other cardinals, archbishops, and bishops. Pro-life students organized a campus Mass and Rally  attended by thousands. Bishop D’Arcy was there instead of at the Commencement, and the students held their own graduation at the Grotto. Pro-life protestors crowded the campus borders, and when some stepped onto Notre Dame soil the university had scores arrested and hauled off in paddy wagons while media cameras recorded the sorry episode for morning editions across the country. 

Father Jenkins in retrospect called the event a “circus.”  Well, circuses are usually fun, but the metaphor holds if one thinks of a circus in which trapeze artists fall to the ground, sword swallowers impale themselves, and fire-eaters go up in flames. 

We reported on all of this here and here and here, and the events are reviewed in a recent (and unusually balanced) National Catholic Reporter article on the prospect of Biden as Notre Dame’s Commencement speaker.

One passing reference in that article caught our eye, namely, the report that some unnamed persons in 2009  “made the case” that the bishops’ injunction  against Catholic institutions honoring “those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” didn’t apply because Obama wasn’t Catholic.

Because this time the prospective honoree is Catholic, we looked to see who had advanced such a contention. 

It turns out to have been Father Jenkins.

As criticism of Father Jenkins’s invitation to Obama mounted in 2009, he defended his decision to the Notre Dames board of trustees in a private letter that leaked. In it, his lead justification was his surprising claim that the bishops’ injunction didn’t apply to non-Catholics even though it didn’t say so. He relied on unnamed “canon lawyers” and what unnamed “fellow university presidents have told me that their bishops have told them.”  

Unsurprisingly, he did not consult the authors of the directive or the officers of the USCCB. Nor, of course, his own bishop, who was leading the opposition. 

We do not pause to elaborate on the emptiness of this claim, untethered as it is to either the language of the directive or its purpose, since the significance of this episode now is the stress Father Jenkins laid on the importance of the bishops’ warning when a Catholic is involved. 

It is certainly true that the scandal of honoring persons at war with fundamental Church teachings is heightened when the honoree is Catholic, especially when he is the most prominent public figure in the land who “places his faith front and center,” threatening  to “shove my rosary beads down the throat” of anyone who says otherwise. 

(The most recent example: The widely reproduced photo of President Biden displaying his dead son’s  rosary to the President of Mexico to show his devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe – who is, we note, not incidentally, pregnant in the famous image.)

The Equal Protection Act and Abortion

In our recent description  of the Equality Act, which Biden is championing and that recently passed in the House of Representatives, we emphasized the trampling of religious liberty that is its most obvious purpose. Because we paid somewhat less attention to the bill’s equally invidious pro-abortion features, we now briefly revisit those features because we agree with the author of a recent analysis of the bill that they “deserve much more attention” than they have received. 

The article is  “The Abortion Extremism of the Equality Act,” and its author is Ed Mechmann, the Director of Public Policy for the Archdiocese of New York.  

We refer the readers, and particularly the lawyers among them, to Mr. Mechmann’s explanation of how the interplay of various provisions of the Act and related legislation would fuel the country’s abortion abattoir. Here are the author’s unnerving conclusions: 

[E]very Catholic parish or school would have to . . . pay for [abortions] in their health insurance. Catholic doctors and hospitals couldn’t refuse to do abortions or refer for them. Even pregnancy centers would have to refer for abortions. If we refuse, we will be vulnerable to enforcement actions by the EEOC and other federal agencies that could impose ruinous penalties. We would also be subject to private civil rights lawsuits from individuals who claim to have been discriminated against. Just think of how many pro-abortion advocates and lawyers would be lining up to sue us.

For a more comprehensive study, see the impressive Charlotte Lozier Institute study that we cited in our earlier bulletin. Its author is Richard Doerflinger, one of the nation’s leading experts on abortion legislation and for many years the USCCB’s point man on the subject. 

His conclusion:

 [T]his bill attacks the lives of countless unborn children, endangers Catholic and other pro-life health care providers, provides a basis for challenging all state and federal limits on public funding of abortion, and treats religious believers as second-class citizens who must violate their fundamental moral convictions to serve the goals of the pro-abortion movement.

Surely it should be a rhetorical question whether the nation’s most prominent Catholic university should honor the nation’s most powerful public figure who  promotes legislation like this — especially when he is a Catholic!

Conclusion – Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades

Father Jenkins would be well advised to reflect on the criticism by Notre Dame’s bishop, the Most Rev. Kevin C. Rhoades, of his decision to award the Laetare Medal to Biden in 2016. Bishop Rhoades summarized by declaring:

The Catholic Church has continually urged public officials, especially Catholics, of the grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that supports or facilitates abortion or that undermines the authentic meaning of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation (emphasis added).

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