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President Biden’s new ambassador to the Holy See voted in favor of former President Obama’s legislative agenda supporting family planning and same-sex marriage when he was a senator, though he spoke out against such measures.
Joe Donnelly, who served as a Democratic senator from Indiana from 2013 to 2019, presented his credentials to Pope Francis at the Apostolic Palace in Vatican City on April 11.
“I look forward to deepening our ties with the Holy See. My family and I are proud to be members of the Catholic faith,” Donnelly said in a video.
“From childhood, through my college and law school years at the University of Notre Dame, to years of public service in Indiana and Washington, D.C., the Catholic Church has been at the heart of my life and my values.”
When he represented Indiana’s 2nd congressional district from 2007 to 2013, he voted against funding embryonic stem cell research and also strongly opposed funding abortion in the law of 2010 Affordable Care (ACA).
According to National Right to Life, however, Donnelly’s pro-life voting record was just 28%.
Donnelly was known as a moderate Democrat when he served in Congress, but changed his stance on same-sex marriage in 2013 because it was “the right thing to do,” he said, according to Politico.
When he voted for the ACA, he also backtracked on his stance against federal funding for Planned Parenthood, which offers abortions.
“I voted to repeal ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ and was an early supporter of the bill that would make it illegal to discriminate against someone in the workplace because of their sexual orientation,” he wrote, according to Politico.
“It is also for this reason that I oppose amending the constitution of Indiana or our nation to enshrine in these documents a ‘we’ and a ‘them’, instead of a ‘we’. With the recent Supreme Court arguments and accompanying public debate on same-sex marriage, I have reflected on my past positions and votes. In doing so, I have concluded that the right thing to do is to support the marriage equality for all.
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The ambassador’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Under Pope Benedict XVI, the Holy See vetoed three of the ambassadors appointed by former President Barack Obama because of their views on abortion, including Caroline Kennedy.