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Joe Donnelly, Biden’s choice for Vatican ambassador, at odds with Catholic teachings: watchdog group

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Former Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly, whom President Biden has chosen as US Ambassador to the Vatican, disagrees with Catholic teachings on issues ranging from abortion to religious freedom, the Catholic League said Friday for religious and civil rights.

An analysis of Mr. Donnelly’s voting record by the prominent watchdog shows he has turned to the left against the church’s teachings on abortion, same-sex marriage and the contraceptive mandate of Obamacare between his time as a congressman from Indiana from 2007 to 2013 and his subsequent tenure as a senator. from 2013 to 2019.

Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights president Bill Donohue told the Washington Times on Friday that some church-affiliated news sources falsely reported Mr. Donnelly to be a “pro-life Democrat” since the announcement of his appointment last week.

“The guy is opposed to the Catholic Church on all major moral teachings,” Mr. Donohue said. “For him to represent the United States in the Vatican is a disgrace.”

Mr. Donnelly did not immediately respond to attempts by The Times to reach him for comment on Friday.

However, the president of the University of Notre Dame, where Mr. Donnelly graduated from college in 1977, defended the loyalty of the former senator.

“He will bring to this role a deep understanding of the issues facing our nation and the world today, a true Catholic faith, and an understanding of the role the Church can play in our world,” Rev. John Jenkins said in a statement. October 16. 8 statement congratulating Mr. Donnelly on his appointment on that day.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, meanwhile, says that as a member of Congress in 2009 and 2010, Mr. Donnelly agreed with the positions of the National Right to Life anti-abortion group 83% of the population. time. But when he later became a senator, the percentage suddenly dropped, first to 20% over the period 2013 to 2014, then to 25% over the period 2015 to 2016, then to 28% over the period 2017 to 2018. .

Against this background, the pro-choice group known as NARAL gave Mr. Donnelly a score of 0% in 2016, but rated him with a score of 84% in 2017 and a score of 80% in 2018. , when he voted in favor of taxpayer funding. abortion procedures.

On same-sex marriage, the LGBTQ + rights group Human Rights Campaign gave it a score of 30% in the House and a score of 85% in the Senate.

Mr Donnelly, who is identified in reports as a practicing Roman Catholic, also voted against a religious freedom bill in Indiana in 2015 and against school choice during his last term in the Senate.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken positions opposed to Mr. Donnelly’s votes on all of these issues, according to Mr. Donohue.

“There’s a reason he came out of retirement to lead Catholics for Biden,” Donohue told The Times. “He lost his candidacy for re-election. If people know that he started out as pro-life and then evolved into pro-homosexual, pro-abortion, anti-religious freedom, and anti-school-choice positions in direct contradiction to the bishops, that looks bad.

Catholic News Service (CNS), the press service for America’s bishops, called Mr. Donnelly pro-life in its report on his appointment this week.

Mr Donohue said the National Catholic Reporter, a pro-choice newspaper that operates outside of the church’s official endorsement, disseminated the claim to CNS and other Catholic news sources, reporting it. in an earlier report on the appointment.

“If he’s labeled as pro-abortion it could create problems for his nomination, so they’re trying to play pool,” Donohue said.

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