An Open Letter
To Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President, University of Notre Dame
With copies to the CSC Superior General, Provincial, Fellows, Board chairman, other Board members and the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend
Dear Father Jenkins:
We, the undersigned members of the Notre Dame community and others dismayed by the pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda of President Joe Biden, having learned from your Crux interview that you are considering inviting President Biden to be Commencement speaker and, accordingly, recipient of an honorary degree, write to urge that you not do so.
We begin with two preliminary observations about what you said during your interview:
First, the “long tradition” of inviting Presidents as commencement speakers that you cited is not, as you know, unbroken. Neither President Trump nor President Clinton, we understand, was invited. In any case, the facts we relate below should override prior practice, uniform or not.
Second, we certainly agree that the university should be free to invite speakers who disagree with Church teachings, but this is beside the point. It has nothing to do with honoring them, which should be governed by the injunction of the nation’s bishops that
Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.
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.
We list in the Appendix Biden’s multiple policies and actions that threaten grievous harm to the Church, Notre Dame, Catholics and other persons of faith, and the unborn. More details are provided in a recent Sycamore Trust bulletin.
In brief, to begin with abortion, Biden’s actions already taken and those promised will result in the killing of countless innocent unborn both here and abroad through federal funding of abortions and abortion organizations.
This is not hyperbole. It is demonstrable fact because of Biden’s lifting the bar against the flow of federal funds to both domestic and international Planned Parenthood and similar organizations. The calamity will assume truly harrowing proportions if Biden achieves his goal of providing direct federal funding of abortions.
In terms of Notre Dame’s honoring Biden, matters are made still worse by Biden’s repeated profession of his Catholicism, and one who, as you have acknowledged, believes abortion to be morally wrong.
His is not the familiar “personally opposed but will not impose” dodge of too many Catholic politicians. Rather, his is an inscrutable “personally opposed but nevertheless will promote and enable” stance. It is singularly blameworthy to help people do what one knows to be wrong.
Next, as to issues of sex, gender, and marriage, Biden’s actions already taken and those promised are breathtaking in scope and will undermine the religious liberty of individuals in their private lives, employment, businesses, and social and religious activities and of religious organizations and institutions such as schools, including Notre Dame, hospitals, and adoption agencies.
Denouncing the executive order Biden has already issued, Cardinal Timothy Dolan and four other bishops, all chairman of involved committees of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB], said:
Wednesday’s executive order threatens to infringe the rights of people who recognize the truth of sexual difference or who uphold the institution of lifelong marriage between one man and one woman. This may manifest in mandates that, for example, erode health care conscience rights or needed and time-honored sex-specific spaces and activities.
This followed a broader censure by the president of the Conference, Archbishop Jose’ H. Gomez, that centered on this warning:
[O]ur new President has pledged to pursue certain policies that would advance moral evils and threaten human life and dignity, most seriously in the areas of abortion, contraception, marriage, and gender. Of deep concern is the liberty of the Church and the freedom of believers to live according to their consciences.
For the nation’s foremost Catholic university to honor a person with such an agenda would scream scandal. As Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann, the chair of the USCCB’s Pro-Life Committee, has observed,
The fact that President Biden identifies himself as a devout Catholic, while working to preserve and expand legalized abortion, even using tax dollars to fund abortion, presents a unique challenge to the Bishops of the United States. . . . . [T]he President’s actions are confusing Catholics and non-Catholics regarding the Church’s teaching on the evil of abortion.
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. 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.
(It is not without irony that a principal victim of this muffling of conscience would be the one purportedly honored, Biden himself.)
Notre Dame has long prided itself on its preeminent position in the educational world of the Church. We suggest that its responsibility as such is to guard Church teachings that are crucially important in today’s society by conferring its honors upon those who support them rather than upon those who oppose them, especially the one person above all who has the will and the power to undermine them.
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The details of Biden’s publicly stated views and his programs on these issues, together with sources, are provided in a recent Sycamore Trust bulletin. In briefest summary, they are:
- Abortion – Opposition to the Hyde Amendment. In his quest for the Democratic nomination, Biden abandoned his support of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits the use of federal funds for abortions. It is estimated to have saved over two million lives between 1976 and 2016.
- Abortion – Mexico City Policy. In one of his first acts Biden repealed this bar against federal contributions to international organizations providing or promoting abortion. Nigeriam Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama acidly observed, “It is intriguing that one of Biden’s first official acts is to promote the destruction of human lives domestically and in developing nations.”
- Abortion – The Obamacare abortifacient mandate. Biden has pledged to rescind the Trump religious exemption that Notre Dame is relying on in the lawsuit brought by students to compel it to supply abortifacients.
- Abortion – Funding of Planned Parenthood. Biden has set in motion the procedure to repeal Trump’s order stripping tens of millions of dollars from Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers.
- Abortion – The Geneva Declaration. Biden has withdrawn from the international anti-abortion “Geneva Consensus Declaration,” which declares that “there is no international right to abortion, nor any international obligation on the part of States to finance or facilitate abortion.”
- Same-Sex marriage — Biden took the lead in the Obama administration by performing a same-sex marriage in the White House.
- Sex, Gender and Religious Liberty – Biden has directed that all federal regulations and policies prohibiting sex discrimination be construed to apply to homosexuals and transsexuals. Because of the ubiquity of such regulations and policies, the consequences will be bitterly divisive and, absent judicial intervention, destructive of religious liberty in schools at all levels, including Notre Dame. Trans-sexual “women, ” for example, who are male biologically and in sexual orientation, will shower with women and girls, share their locker and rest rooms, and room with them in women’s dormitories.
- Sex, Gender, Abortion and Religious Liberty – The “Equality Act.” This bill, which Biden has declared a “top legislative priority,” would add “sex” to all federal anti-discrimination laws and specify that “sex” includes “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.” It is breathtaking in its sweep and its destruction of religious liberty through its unprecedented insulation from the Restoration of Religious Liberty Act. It would trench upon the religious liberty of individuals in their private lives, employment, businesses, and social and religious activities and of religious organizations and institutions such as schools, hospitals, and adoption agencies.