President Joe Biden did not speak at the University of Notre Dame’s commencement on Sunday, a noticeable break in the recent tradition of presidents speaking at the university their first year in office, The Washington Times reported.
The White House said that Biden, who professes to be Catholic, was invited to address the graduates, but had a conflict and could not attend.
There had been great controversy over whether Biden should speak and be awarded an honorary degree by the Catholic university, given his ardent support for abortion and his anti-religious liberty stance. More than 4,300 members of the Notre Dame community wrote an open letter to university president Rev. John I. Jenkins, urging him not to invite Biden to speak.
Former President Barack Obama’s speech at the university also caused controversy because of his pro-abortion views.
“He rejects church teachings”
“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 letter stated of Biden. “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.”
The letter continued, “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.”
The tradition of inviting presidents speak at the university during their first term began with President Jimmy Carter. During the Trump presidency, the speech was delivered by Vice President Mike Pence.
Notre Dame may have dodged a bullet when Biden declined its offer to speak, however.
Biden scolds Coast Guard class
Last week when Biden addressed the Coast Guard graduating class at its commencement, he told several jokes that fell flat and then proceeded to scold — some might say even insult — the graduates for not clapping or laughing.
“I can only assume that you will enjoy educating your family about how the Coast Guard is quote, ‘the hard nucleus around [which] the Navy forms in times of war,'” Biden said, and was greeted with crickets.
He then said, “You are a really dull class. I mean, come on, man, is the sun getting to you? I would think you would have an opportunity when I say that about the Navy to clap.”
He also had to ask for applause at several other points in the speech.