The University of Notre Dame held its 176th commencement ceremony Sunday, and conspicuously absent was President Biden.
Mr. Biden did not deliver the address to the Notre Dame 2021 graduating class, breaking with recent tradition for newly installed administrations, as the nation’s second Catholic president continues to draw fire for pursuing a staunchly pro-choice policy agenda.
The White House told the Catholic News Agency that the president was invited but had a scheduling conflict, avoiding a brewing uproar over whether the Catholic institution should celebrate Mr. Bidenby awarding him an honorary degree, as is customary for commencement speakers.
More than 4,300 “members of the Notre Dame community” and others signed an open letter to the Rev. John I. Jenkins, the university president, asking him not to invite Mr. Biden over his “pro-abortion and anti-religious liberty agenda.”
“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,” said the letter. “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.”
Mr. Obama gave the commencement address in 2009, four months after his inauguration. Also speaking at graduation ceremonies in their first years in office were President George W. Bush in 2001 and Vice President Mike Pence in 2017.
C.J. Doyle, executive director of the Catholic Action League, said there was “unprecedented opposition to Obama receiving a degree from Notre Dame, so much so that the President of Notre Dame, Father Jenkins, actually walked in the National March for Life in D.C. afterwards.”
“I believe there would have been even more intense outrage if Biden was given a degree,” Mr. Doyle told The Washington Times. “The issue of nominally Catholic politicians who support abortion is, 48 years after Roe, finally reaching critical mass.”