Mary Ann Glendon has refused the invitation to be honored at Notre Dame. This is huge. Read her letter.
Now that’s what I call dialogue! It seems to me that she was dissapointed that Notre Dame was using her presence there as coverage. This does two things. It keeps the story alive just as it seemed to be dying and it puts the focus back on Father Jenkins who made the terrible decision to invite Obama.
The fact that she took so long to make this decision indicates that this was not an easy decision for her and it was not a reactionary response but a calm and deliberate one.
How sad that the former Ambassador to the Vatican doesn’t feel that she can attend the country’s most well known Catholic University. That alone says so much. Glendon went from “profoundly moved” at the thought of receiving an honor from Notre Dame to “great sadness.” I think we can all understand why.
By Mary Ann Glendon
Monday, April 27, 2009, 9:32 AM
April 27, 2009
The Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
University of Notre Dame
Dear Father Jenkins,
When you informed me in December 2008 that I had been selected to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, I was profoundly moved. I treasure the memory of receiving an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1996, and I have always felt honored that the commencement speech I gave that year was included in the anthology of Notre Dame’s most memorable commencement speeches. So I immediately began working on an acceptance speech that I hoped would be worthy of the occasion, of the honor of the medal, and of your students and faculty.
Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech. Over the ensuing weeks, the task that once seemed so delightful has been complicated by a number of factors.
First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.
Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:
• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”
A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It is not the right place, nor is a brief acceptance speech the right vehicle, for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision—in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops—to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church’s position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.
Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.
It is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony.
In order to avoid the inevitable speculation about the reasons for my decision, I will release this letter to the press, but I do not plan to make any further comment on the matter at this time.
Yours Very Truly,
Mary Ann Glendon
HT First Things
Update: Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly issued the following statement:
“Mary Ann Glendon is one of the most accomplished Catholic and pro-life leaders of our time. In heroic fashion, she has willingly sacrificed an award that she richly deserves, as a casualty of Notre Dame’s choice to betray its Catholic mission. We urge Catholics nationwide to continue to pray that Notre Dame will end this scandal.”
Update II: Canon lawyer Ed Peters has more:
The evil that ND President Jenkins and his Board of Trustees committed has, Deus laudetur, occasioned one of the most striking displays of episcopal fortitude I can remember, mobilized hundreds of thousands of American Catholics against another quiet surrender to the Culture of Death, and effected notice to several once great Catholic institutions that it’s time, finally, to decide where they stand…
Update III: Father Raymond J. de Souza writes in the National Catholic Register: Father John Jenkins likely thought himself very clever. Professor Mary Ann Glendon just took him to school.
In declining to receive the Laetare Medal alongside President Barack Obama’s honorary doctorate of laws at next month’s commencement, Glendon has refused to participate in the shabby manipulation Father Jenkins attempted to engineer. It is a rare personage who could ennoble an award by refusing to receive it, but Professor Glendon has done just that. The Laetare Medal will now be known best for the year in which it was declined. Glendon chose, to use the apt words of Bishop John D’Arcy in this regard, truth over prestige…
Continue reading his excellent article here.