Bishop Kevin Rhoades and Vice
President Joe Biden. (AP photos.)
(CNSNews.com) – Catholic Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, head of the Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana diocese where the University of Notre Dame is located, said it is wrong for the school to honor Vice President Joe Biden with the Laetare Medal, which recognizes a Catholic’s outstanding service to the Church and to society.
Notre Dame, headed by Fr. John Jenkins, decided to give the award to Vice President Joe Biden and to former House Speaker John Boehner, the former a Democrat and the latter a Republican, and both Catholic.
In a March 14 statement, Bishop Rhoades said he understood the decision to honor both men but told Fr. Jenkins about the problem with giving the award to Biden.
“I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any ‘pro-choice’ public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception,” said Bishop Rhoades.
“I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage,” said the bishop.
Rev. John Jenkins, CSC, president
of the University of Notre Dame.
“The 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,” he said.
“I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation, said the bishop.
Vice President Joe Biden is a strong supporter of homosexual “marriage” and abortion, both of which are contrary to Catholic Church teaching.
Bishop Rhoades went on to say that honoring Biden creates scandal – for the faithful, and the general public.
“My principal concern about this whole matter is scandal,” said the bishop. “In honoring a ‘pro-choice’ Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage, which the Church considers harmful to the common good of society, it can give the impression to people, including Catholics in political office, that one can be ‘a good Catholic’ while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings.”
Bishop Rhoades further said Notre Dame and other Catholic colleges must “raise the bar” when it comes to honoring certain people. “I believe a higher standard is needed,” said Bishop Rhoades.
“We should seek to honor those who act to protect human life and dignity from conception to natural death,” said the bishop, “who respect true marriage and the family, who promote peace, justice, religious freedom, solidarity, the integral development of the poor, the just treatment of immigrants, and care for creation.”
“We should not honor those who may be exemplary in one area but gravely irresponsible in another,” he said. “We should not honor those who claim to personally accept Church teaching, but act contrary to that teaching in their political choices.”
Vice President Joe Biden and former House Speaker John Boehner are scheduled to receive the Laetare Medal at Notre Dame’s commencement on May 15.
As stated on the Notre Dame website, “the Laetare Medal was conceived as an American counterpart of the Golden Rose, a papal honor that antedates the 11th century. The medal has been awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic ‘whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.’”