Notre Dame University’s 2021 commencement is set for Sunday, but President Biden will reportedly be absent from the event.
Breaking with recent tradition, the president will not address the ceremony after 4,300 “members of the Notre Dame community” signed a petition urging Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins not to invite Biden, the second Roman Catholic president, over his stance on abortion.
A White House source told Catholic News Agency that Biden was invited but could not attend due to a scheduling conflict. Instead, finance executive and trustee of the university Jimmy Dunne will address the graduates.
Biden during the week delivered a commencement address at the Coast Guard Academy and spoke virtually at the commencement for Syracuse University, his law school alma mater.
For the last three presidencies, either the president or vice president has attended the Notre Dame commencement their first year in office. President George W. Bush gave the commencement address in 2001, President Barack Obama gave the address in 2009 and Vice President Mike Pence spoke at the ceremony in 2017. Obama’s attendance drew backlash for similar reasons.