The University of Notre Dame’s Alliance for Catholic Education program hosted U.S. Senator Bob Casey—whom one Pennsylvania diocese said was “increasingly in disagreement with the Church on issues involving Church teaching”—to deliver the commencement speech at the graduation ceremony for 108 master’s degree recipients this past weekend, according to a release from the University.
The Catholic senator from Pennsylvania, who has proclaimed himself pro-life, has voted against the "Mexico City Policy", thereby permitting the U.S. government to pay for abortions overseas, and has voted against defunding Planned Parenthood.
And despite public opposition by the U.S. bishops to the Affordable Care Act due to concerns about abortion funding, Senator Casey voted in favor of the bill. Prior to the vote, Casey said in an interview about abortion funding and the bill, "I've never drawn a line in the sand on any issue."
Casey announced last year his support of same-sex marriage. In a statement posted to his website, Casey said, “After much deliberation and after reviewing the legal, public policy, and civil rights questions presented, I support marriage equality for same-sex couples and believe that DOMA should be repealed.”
Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton, Pennsylvania, said of that decision, “Senator Casey has unfortunately and disappointingly set aside the Catholic belief and teaching that the sacrament of marriage, rooted in the natural law, is a faithful, exclusive, lifelong, loving union of a man and a woman open to the transmission of human life… Senator Casey’s position is contrary to the teaching of the Catholic Church.”
Last year, the Diocese of Allentown protested Casey’s lecture at Alvernia University, noting his growing disparity with the teachings of the Catholic Church. A diocesan statement read:
The Diocese of Allentown was not consulted in advance of Alvernia University's decision to invite Senator Casey to speak at the school even though the Senator is increasingly in disagreement with the Church on issues involving Church teaching. Bishop Barres' concerns have been communicated directly to the leadership of the University.
Casey’s spokesman reportedly said in response that the senator’s Catholic faith “has always informed and inspired him, but it does not specifically dictate how he votes on matters of public policy as a representative of 12.8 million Pennsylvanians of many faiths.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church says of direct abortion it is “gravely contrary to the moral law” and the Church teaches that marriage is between a man and a woman.
In the press release on the commencement ceremony, Notre Dame mentions that Casey is a member of the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions and that he volunteered for a year as an educator in an inner-city Philadelphia school.
Father Timothy Scully, C.S.C., a co-founder of the Alliance for Catholic Education, invoked the importance of children in discussing the program, saying in the release, “We are blessed with talented and faith-filled graduates seeking to extend the gift of a great Catholic school education to as many children as possible…They remind us that every child, especially the most vulnerable, must have the opportunity for a quality education.”
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