Featured Image

(LifeSiteNews) — Former Tyler, Texas, Bishop Joseph Strickland and current San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone are among the first prominent clergy in the United States to express public support for Harrison Butker after the star NFL kicker came under attack from mainstream media outlets for delivering a pro-family commencement address at Benedictine College last Saturday in Atchison, Kansas. 

Strickland and Cordileone both issued statements on X this week praising Butker for his speech, which has caused leftists and sports pundits alike to flip out because he had the audacity to suggest female graduates might find more meaning raising children than in professional accolades.

“Thank you Harrison for speaking truth, it is no surprise that some are reacting with extreme negativity, too many today hate the Truth & merely want ‘their’ truth which is not truth at all. You are in my prayers,” Strickland said.

“As voices are raised against Harrison Butker’s speech at Benedictine College, let us stand strong & resist their attempts to silence the truth,” Strickland also remarked. “Harrison spoke in love to the graduates & to our culture. Even leaders in the Church speak against tradition but let us remember that Truth prevails because Jesus Christ is Truth Incarnate.” 

“[Harrison Butker]’s call for young Catholic men to put their vocations as husbands and fathers first could not be more important. Surely we spiritual fathers can ponder his call to us too. Faithfulness is the way,” Cordileone stated. 

During his 20-minute address to about 485 graduates, Butker, who is unvaccinated, unapologetically pushed back against abortion as well as so-called Pride Month, which he called a “deadly sin.” He also singled out President Joe Biden, cowardly U.S. Catholic bishops, and “people pushing dangerous gender ideologies onto the youth of America.” 

Addressing himself to female graduates specifically, Butker warned them to be aware of the “diabolical lies” the world tells them about putting their job ahead of their family.  

READ: Super Bowl champ Harrison Butker: ‘The Traditional Latin Mass has really transformed my life’

“Some of you may go on to lead successful careers in the world, but I would venture to guess that the majority of you are most excited about your marriage and the children you will bring into this world,” he said. “I can tell you that my beautiful wife Isabelle would be the first to say her life truly started when she started living her vocation as a wife and as a mother.”  

Dozens of media outlets – including Catholic ones – as well as feminists, LGBT activists, and former female athletes blew a gasket over Butker’s remarks, which reflected nothing more than a basic Christian understanding of family life.  

Many voices claimed Butker’s speech was “sexist,” “hateful,” and even “anti-Semitic.” One host on left-wing television show “The View” absurdly claimed that it was comparable to “cult-like and extremist religions in the Middle East.” 

NFL senior vice president and chief diversity and inclusion officer Jonathan Beane also condemned Butker. “Harrison Butker gave a speech in his personal capacity. His views are not those of the NFL as an organization. The NFL is steadfast in our commitment to inclusion, which only makes our league stronger,” he said in a statement.  

A petition was launched Monday calling on the Kansas City Chiefs to dismiss Butker over what it calls his “dehumanizing” remarks about “LGBTQ+ individuals.” 

Meanwhile, a LifeSite counter-petition in support of Butker that was published Thursday has soared past 9,500 signatures in less than 24 hours. 

A devout Catholic who exclusively attends the Latin Mass, Butker, who is 28 and has two children, was signed by the Chiefs in 2017 after being waived by the Carolina Panthers. The franchise won its third Super Bowl in five years in 2024. He has constantly given “glory to God” after his many impressive performances. He currently has the second most accurate conversion rate in league history with 89.1 percent. 

Butker’s local bishop James Johnston of the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph has also weighed in. In a statement to Catholic News Agency Thursday, Johnston said that he “support[s] Mr. Butker’s right to share his faith and express his opinions – including those that are critical of bishops.” 

READ: NFL kicker Harrison Butker slams abortion as a ‘great atrocity that is happening in this country’

“Harrison Butker’s passion for his Catholic faith and his family are beautiful and well known,” Johnston added. “And like most people, he also has strong opinions on where we are as a Church and as a nation.” 

Former University of Notre Dame head coach Lou Holtz had far stronger words. In an X post, he described Butker as a “man of God” and encouraged him to not back down.   

“Thank you, Harrison Butker, for standing strong in your faith values. Your commencement speech at Benedictine College showed courage and conviction and I admire that. Don’t give in.” 

During his speech Saturday, Butker admonished not only Joe Biden but also Catholic bishops for being “motivated by fear” during COVID-19.  

“They showed by their actions, intentional or unintentional, that the sacraments don’t actually matter,” he said.  

Two of the main themes Butker stressed in his speech Saturday were how the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) has helped him “order” his life and how men today need to embrace masculinity. Butker previously pushed back against Pope Francis’ decision to issue Traditionis Custodes, which severely restricts priests from offering the Latin Mass.

“What I think is misunderstood is that people who attend the TLM do so out of pride or preference. I can only speak to my own experience, but for most people … this simply is not true,” he said.  

“I do not attend the TLM because I think I am better than others, or for the smells and bells, or even for the love of Latin. I attend the TLM because I believe, just as the God of the Old Testament was pretty particular in how He wanted to be worshiped, the same holds true for us today,” he also remarked. 

“It is only in the past few years that I have grown encouraged to speak more boldly and directly, because as I mentioned earlier, I have leaned into my vocation as a husband and father,” Butker continued Saturday. “As a man who gets a lot of praise and has been given a platform to speak to audiences like this one today, I pray that I always use my voice for God and not for myself.”