Benedictine College nuns call out Harrison Butker for sexist commencement speech

Harrison Butker’s commencement speech at Benedictine College in Kansas last weekend sparked a culture war firestorm. Now, the sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, a founding institution and sponsor of Benedictine College, have weighed in, denouncing Butker’s remarks as unrepresentative of the ideals of the Catholic liberal arts college.

“Instead of promoting unity in our church, our nation, and the world, his comments seem to have fostered division,” they said in a statement released this week.

From the get-go, Butker’s speech to the graduating class of 2024 was littered with homophobic, sexist and anti-abortion views. Among his most widely criticized comments was his remark to the young women among the graduates that they’d been fed “diabolical lies” about career aspirations when “one of the most important titles” for them is “homemaker.” (Butker’s mother, as many pointed out, is herself an accomplished physicist.)

The Benedictine nuns called out his remarks about women in particular.

“One of our concerns was the assertion that being a homemaker is the highest calling for a woman,” they said. “We sisters have dedicated our lives to God and God’s people, including the many women whom we have taught and influenced during the past 160 years. These women have made a tremendous difference in the world in their roles as wives and mothers and through their God-given gifts in leadership, scholarship, and their careers.”

They also appeared to reference Butker’s tirade against Catholics who support abortion rights and “dangerous gender ideologies.” Butker referred to Pride Month as a “deadly sin sort of pride” and decried the “tyranny of diversity, equity and inclusion.”

“Our community has taught young women and men not just how to be ‘homemaker’ in a limited sense, but rather how to make a Gospel-centered, compassionate home within themselves where they can welcome others as Christ, empowering them to be the best versions of themselves,” they added. “We reject a narrow definition of what it means to be Catholic.”

Predictably, Butker’s stock has risen in some conservative circles. But he has also received huge backlash over his remarks: The NFL has tried to distance itself from his remarks, and GLAAD criticized his speech in a statement. He has even provoked the ire of Taylor Swift fans, who criticized him for referencing her song lyrics in a speech about regressive gender roles.

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