A Catholic group on Friday condemned President Biden’s pick as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, describing former Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly as a ‘rogue Catholic’ for his stance on abortion and gay marriage.
But analysis of his voting record shows he shifted from a pro-life position and away from Church teachings on gay marriage, according to the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.
‘Several Catholic news outlets, including Catholic News Service, have reported that Joseph Donnelly, President Biden’s nominee to be the new U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, is a “pro-life” Democrat,’ said the group’s president Bill Donohue.
‘They are wrong.
‘Worse, Donnelly is not only at odds with the Catholic Church on abortion, he is pro-gay marriage, against religious liberty, and against school choice.
‘When Donnelly served as a congressman from Indiana (2007-2013), he was pro-life, but when he became a U.S. Senator (2013-2019), he pivoted and joined the pro-abortion camp.’
The White House last week named former Indiana Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly as President Biden’s pick to be ambassador to the Vatican. But conservative Catholics say his voting record shows Donnelly is out of step with Catholic teaching on abortion and gay marriage
The announcement of Donnelly’s nomination comes just ahead of Biden’s meeting with Pope Francis during his visit to Rome at the end of the month for the G20 summit
His comments reflect longstanding tension within the U.S. Catholic Church over Biden and his faith.
Catholic bishops have threatened to withhold Communion from Biden, the country’s second Catholic president, for his administration’s stance on abortion.
Biden was denied the sacrament in 2019 during the run-up to the election.
The issue generated fresh headlines in the summer when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops proceeded with a plan that could deny communion to such public figures.
Pope Francis has tried to head off the split by saying bishops should make their decision from a ‘pastoral’ viewpoint rather than a political position.
‘The problem is not theological, it’s pastoral,’ he said.
‘How we bishops deal with this principle. We must be pastors, also with those who are excommunicated. Like God with passion and tenderness.
‘The Bible says so.’
Biden is due to meet the Pope at the end of the month during a visit to Rome.
In the meantime, Biden’s conservative Catholic opponents have seized on his pick for ambassador to the Vatican.
The Catholic League said Donnelly shifted leftward during his time in Congress.
For example, he was initially one of dozens of Democrats to oppose abortion funding in the Affordable Care Act when it was before Congress in 2009.
But he later changed his position and backed final passage in 2010, putting him in conflict with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops which opposed the way it meant religious institutions would have to fund contraception for employees.
Conservative Catholics attacked Biden’s choice for ambassador to the Vatican
It also cited the way the Human Rights Campaign, a prominent gay rights organization, increased his congressional scorecard ratings from 30 percent to 85 percent over time.
‘Joe Donnelly started out as a Catholic official who was mostly in line with the policy prescriptions of the Catholic Church,’ said Donohue.
‘But he ended his career in government as a foe of the Church’s moral teachings. Now he wants to represent the U.S. at the Vatican.
‘There is a reason why Donnelly was co-chair of Catholics for Biden.
‘Like our “devout Catholic” president, he turned rogue.’
The White House defended the choice earlier this week.
‘Mr. Donnelly is someone who has a long record in public service,’ said White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday.
‘He’s somebody the President feels will represent the United States and our interests quite well as Ambassador to the Holy See.
‘And he’s looking forward to his confirmation.’