The vilified Catholic player, supported by his bishop

A number of prominent Catholics, including the local bishop, have come out in support of Kansas City Chiefs star kicker Harrison Butker, who has been vilified for his overtly Catholic commencement address at Benedictine College on May 11.

Several public figures and pundits have called for Butker to be fired from his position on the team for sharing his views on gender, abortion, assisted suicide, euthanasia, and surrogacy, all of which line up with Catholic teaching.

“The harmful remarks made by Harrison Butker… were unacceptable,” reads a petition calling for his dismissal. “His comments were sexist, homophobic, anti-trans, anti-abortion and racist.”

Bishop James Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, however, released a statement saying that “Harrison Butker’s passion for his Catholic faith and his family are beautiful and well known. And like most people, he also has strong opinions on where we are as a Church and as a nation.”

“The Catholic Church believes that God calls everyone to pursue holiness no matter what path they take,” the bishop continued. “As St. Paul notes, that diversity of callings and vocations is essential to the life and mission of the Church.”

“I support Mr. Butker’s right to share his faith and express his opinions — including those that are critical of bishops,” he added.

The last remark likely refers to the Super Bowl winner’s chastisement in his speech of certain unnamed bishops who were “motivated by fear” during the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns.

“Our own nation is led by a man who publicly and proudly proclaims his Catholic faith, but at the same time is delusional enough to make the sign of the cross during a pro-abortion rally,” Butker said in his address. “He has been so vocal in his support for the murder of innocent babies that I’m sure to many people it appears that you can be both Catholic and pro-choice.”

Bishop Joseph Strickland, a conservative bishop who was removed from his post allegedly for criticizing Pope Francis, thanked Butker for “speaking truth” in a post on X (former Twitter).

“As voices are raised against Harrison Butker’s speech at Benedictine College, let us stand strong & resist their attempts to silence the truth,” Strickland wrote. “Harrison spoke in love to the graduates & to our culture.”

Catholic League President Bill Donohue similarly wrote that Butker “nailed it” in his commencement address.

“His courage and his commitment to Catholicism is laudatory,” Donohue wrote. “A heralded Catholic football player defends traditional moral values at a Catholic college — how novel — and within no time he’s being bashed all over the place.”

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