Several months ago, Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., the president of the university, discussed with me his consideration of conferring the Laetare Medal upon Vice President Joseph Biden. ... In dialogue with Fr. Jenkins about this matter some months ago, I shared with him my concerns with honoring the Vice President.
The Laetare Medal, dating back to 1883, is the oldest and most prestigious award granted by the university to Catholics for their community service. The person selected for this award is announced each year on Laetare Sunday, hence its name.
On Laetare Sunday, which fell on March 6, Notre Dame announced the recipients of this year's award would be self-professed Catholic U.S. Vice President Joe Biden along with former House Speaker and Catholic John Boehner. The university intends to confer the award at its May 15 commencement exercises.
Bishop Rhoades responded Monday to "many inquiries" affirming he disagreed with Fr. Jenkins' decision:
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. ... I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage.
Vice President Biden advocates for abortion and so-called same-sex marriage.
Rhoades went on to say 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."
The bishop said he disagrees with awarding someone for "outstanding service to the Church and society" who has not been faithful to such grave obligations, adding that bestowing such honors on someone like Biden could "provoke scandal," his "principle concern."
The bishop made clear that "honoring a pro-choice Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage" can give the wrong impression to people that "one can be a good Catholic while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings."
The bishop, who is sure to gain accolades from faithful Catholics for his stance, urged such institutions as Notre Dame to disqualify candidates for such awards who "dissent from the truths and values" professed by the Catholic Church.
Many politicians today claim they are personally opposed to such evils as abortion but don't want to "impose" their beliefs on others through legal means.
Bishop Rhoades called on Catholic institutions to "raise the bar" when selecting candidates to honor. "We should not honor those who claim to personally accept Church teaching, but act contrary to that teaching in their political choices."
There has been public reaction as yet from the university to the bishop's condemnation.
To gain more insight into Notre Dame's questionable decision, watch "The Download—Notre Dame Deceit."