ROME — President Joe Biden has named pro-life former Democrat Congressman Joseph Donnelly as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See, a choice expected to garner easy confirmation both in the Vatican and the U.S. Senate.
Donnelly served as one of Indiana’s two U.S. Senators from 2013 to 2019, when he was defeated by Republican challenger Mike Braun. He was also a member of the House from 2007 to 2013.
While in the House, Donnelly voted to defund abortion giant Planned Parenthood on multiple occasions and was one of only two Senate Democrats who did so in August 2015 after pro-life activists released undercover videos showing Planned Parenthood officials allegedly talking about selling aborted baby parts.
Also while in the Senate, Donnelly famously withheld his support from Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, insisting he could not vote for it without a clause barring taxpayer funding for abortion services.
In early 2017, DNC chairman Tom Perez established an abortion litmus test for the party, effectively ruling out the possibility of “pro-life Democrats.”
“Every Democrat, like every American, should support a woman’s right to make her own choices about her body and her health,” Perez said at the time. “That is not negotiable and should not change city by city or state by state.”
Donnelly’s belief in the sacredness of all human life did not prevent him from supporting Joe Biden in the 2020 campaign, and he co-chaired the “Catholics for Biden” coalition. He also praised Biden as a man whose Catholic faith “beats deep in his heart every moment of his life.”
After Congress, the new nominee went on to join a Washington D.C. law firm. He has also given courses at Notre Dame University, where he earned both his undergraduate degree in political science and his J.D. at the Notre Dame Law School.
Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, praised Donnelly’s nomination in a statement published on the university website.
“Joe has been an exemplary public servant in Congress, an invaluable friend of Notre Dame and of me personally, and he is an ideal choice to represent the United States at the Vatican,” Jenkins wrote.
“He will bring to this role a deep understanding of the issues currently facing our nation and the world, a genuine Catholic faith and an understanding of the role the Church can play in our world,” he added. “On behalf of the Notre Dame family, I offer my congratulations and prayers as he prepares for this new responsibility.”
The Biden nomination comes nearly nine months after he took office as president, an unusually long waiting period.
If confirmed, Donnelly will succeed Callista Gingrich as the U.S. government’s ambassador to the Vatican, making him the twelfth ambassador since the U.S. and the Holy See established diplomatic relations in 1984 under President Ronald Reagan.