Washington insiders, University of Notre Dame alumni, and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick gathered for a Capitol Hill reception last week to honor Fr. Theodore Hesburgh's 70th anniversary of his ordination. Fr. Hesburgh served as the president of the University between 1952 and 1987. U.S House minority leader Nancy Pelosi invited Fr. Hesburgh to the birthday party/reception in his honor. Vice President Joseph Biden made a surprise appearance.
“Father Hesburgh brought to this country a new understanding of what a university education should be,” said Cardinal McCarrick, comparing him to George Washington, Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln.
“You’re one of the most powerful unelected officials this nation has ever seen,” said Vice President Biden. "In 1972 I ran for public office as a 29-year-old kid because of your passion for civil rights. You're one of the reasons I've been so proud to be a Catholic."
Fr. Hesburgh was the principal organizer and signatory of the Land O' Lakes Statement, in which Catholic university presidents declared "true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical." Fr. Hesburgh also served as board member and chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation, devoted to population control. In 2008, Fr. Hesburgh told the Wall Street Journal that he had no objection to female ordination.
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