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So begins the petition to not invite President Biden to speak at the 2021 Commencement at Notre Dame.
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.
So far, 4,706 staff, alumni, students, and friends of Notre Dame have signed the petition. The President’s staff is claiming that President Biden has a scheduling conflict and will not be available to be the commencement speaker.
Regardless of whether the scheduling conflict is true, or not this is an indication that there are staff, faculty, alumni, and students, all members of the Holy Cross family are willing to fight for their Church.
Father Jenkins made a better choice for the principal Commencement speaker:
Jimmy Dunne, a University of Notre Dame Trustee and alumnus who in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001, led the recovery of his company while also providing compassionate and meaningful care to the families of the firm’s employees who lost their lives, will serve as the principal speaker and receive an honorary doctor of laws degree at Notre Dame’s 176th University Commencement Ceremony on May 23. The ceremony will be held in-person for graduates and a limited number of guests in Notre Dame Stadium.
“At a time when our graduates have had to show remarkable resilience in the face of the adversity of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jimmy is someone who personified resilience in the aftermath of the tragic events 20 years ago,” Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “Through his example, as well as his words, he will send off our graduates with a powerful message about commitment, honor, integrity and perseverance.”
As one of the senior managing partners of Sandler O’Neill, Dunne was attempting to qualify for the U.S. Mid-Amateur golf tournament when the attack on the World Trade Center occurred the morning of Sept. 11. Of the 171 Sandler O’Neill employees, 68 lost their lives that day, including Dunne’s mentor, Herman Sandler, and his best friend, Chris Quackenbush.
Dunne was determined to rebuild the firm. He took decisive action to care for the families of employees who died by paying the salaries and bonuses of those who perished, providing health care to the families and creating a college scholarship fund for the children who lost a parent. To date, the Sandler O’Neill Assistance Foundation is well on its way of providing full tuition for all of the children to attend colleges and universities across the country, including Notre Dame.
When asked why he and others at the firm made the commitment to employees’ families, Dunne said: “We believed that what we did would echo for a hundred years in the families of our people, their kids and their grandkids. We knew how we conducted ourselves in those first few hours and days would define who we really were and what we stood for. If we were not honorable, then we stood for nothing.”