Harrison Butker arrives at the Allegiant Stadium before Super Bowl LVIII
(Tim Nwachukwu / Getty)

The Nuns of Benedictine College Slam Harrison Butker’s Commencement Speech

The nuns of Benedictine College have spoken out against Harrison Butker’s commencement speech, reiterating that his views do not represent those of the university or the Catholic Church in general.

Recommended Videos

Harrison Butker’s commencement speech to the graduating class of Benedictine College went viral this week for Butker’s hateful rhetoric. During the speech, Butker takes aim at the LGBTQ+ community and working women, as he declares that a woman’s sole purpose in life is to be a “homemaker” and tells the graduating women that they must stay in their lanes and submit to that vocation. One of the other major points Butker tackles in his speech is the Catholic Church and what it means to be Catholic.

It’s understandable that Butker would reference religion, as Benedictine College is a Catholic university. However, many will notice that he speaks as if he is the true epitome of a perfect Catholic. Not only does he lecture the students to submit to his personal ideal of what makes a good Catholic, but he also tries to lecture the Catholic Church about how it should operate. Both during his speech and in previous instances, Butker has spoken as if he has the authority to tell the Catholic Church how it should approach COVID-19 protocols or even whom the Church is allowed to hold funerals for.

Since he frequently speaks as if he represents the Catholic Church, many have used the religious aspect to defend Butker’s speech, reasoning that he was simply stating his traditional Catholic beliefs and that it was perfectly suitable to express them in a Catholic university. After one female graduate who was present for his speech spoke out about how terrible the experience was, many commenters told her that she just shouldn’t have gone to a Catholic university if she didn’t want to hear those beliefs. However, now the Benedictine nuns are speaking out to confirm that Butker doesn’t represent their beliefs, and that being Catholic or attending a Catholic university does not mean women have to withstand being belittled.

Nuns of Benedictine slam Harrison Butker’s “narrow” view of Catholicism

The Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, who aided in founding and sponsoring Benedictine College, issued a statement in response to Butker’s commencement speech. The lengthy statement was far more severe and poignant than the NFL’s brief, tame response, leaving no doubt of their stance. “The sisters of Mount St. Scholastica do not believe that Harrison Butker’s comments in his 2024 Benedictine College commencement address represent the Catholic, Benedictine, liberal arts college,” the statement reads.

The statement goes on to reveal that one of the biggest concerns the sisters had over his speech was “the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman.” After all, despite being valued members of the Catholic Church, the sisters do not adhere to Butker’s statement since they dedicated their “lives to God and God’s people.” Even though the sisters didn’t choose the route of being wives and mothers, their role has allowed them to inspire and teach countless women who did go on to be “wives and mothers,” as well as the women who make a difference in the world through “leadership, scholarship, and their careers.”

The nuns state that the university’s priority is raising compassionate people who are the best version of themselves and bring others to Christ. Of Butker’s views, they write, “We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic.” To conclude, the sisters highlight once more that they are “faithful members of the Catholic Church” who embrace its teachings and wish Benedictine to be known as “an inclusive, welcoming community.”

This statement is very important in the discussion surrounding Butker’s speech. Since he largely made his speech in the name of Catholicism, it’s essential to listen to what Catholics think of it. The thing is, the mere existence of nuns in the Catholic Church is already a strong antithesis to Butker’s statements. According to Butker, women’s lives don’t start until they marry and have children, and he insinuates they are bad Catholics if they don’t stick to their God-given duty to be homemakers. Many nuns do not marry or bear children, yet they are still recognized as vital to the Catholic Church and society. Some even consider nuns early feminists since they rejected the idea that women should stay in the home and instead went on to become essential members of their Church and community.

So, those arguing that Benedictine College graduates essentially “signed up” for Butker’s speech by going to a Catholic college are quite wrong because not all Catholics believe women should be homemakers—especially the nuns who devoted their lives to God in ways other than homemaking and helped create Benedictine College by laying the foundation for an Academy specifically for young women. The nuns’ statement is a very poignant reminder that Butker doesn’t have any authority to dictate how the Church or Catholics live their lives, nor is there any proof that he is the epitome of the perfect Catholic.

The Mary Sue is supported by our audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission. Learn more about our Affiliate Policy
Image of Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.