In all the news about the president at Notre Dame the fact that a strong person in the pro-life movement Mary Ann Glendon was supposed to receive the Laetare Medal was supposed to be a counterpoint to affirm the pro-life identity of the college.
However it appears that they didn’t count on the actual faith of Mary Ann Glendon:
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.
To say this is a bombshell is the understatement of the year. Hot air comments:
…she’s right to reject that exploitation, as Notre Dame used Glendon in a way that all but said, “Why, some of our best friends are Catholic!”
The public scolding and rejection leaves Notre Dame twisting in the wind. The Laetare Medal is quite prestigious in the Catholic community, and Glendon’s rejection of it will make Rev. Jenkins look even more foolish. Glendon refuses to allow the award to be demeaned into a tool for political purposes, which demonstrates more integrity than Fr. Jenkins has shown in this sorry episode.
Ed Peters is impressed.
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.
Fr De Souza is impressed:
It could not have been easy for Glendon to decline the Laetare Medal — after all, she is deserving of it, and the people who nominated her for it are now put in an awkward position. Glendon is proud of her Notre Dame connections, including the 1996 honorary degree that she was awarded. No doubt she is proud of her former student Barack Obama for his laudable achievements. No doubt she would have preferred a quieter honor, one which would not have forced her to choose sides. It is to Father Jenkins’s shame that he tried to use Glendon. It is to her great credit that she refused to be used.
In her life of extraordinary accomplishments, the witness given by Glendon by not going to Notre Dame next month is something of a crowning achievement. It matters a great deal that a celebrated laywoman is rejecting this honor. Notre Dame long ago learned how to disregard the advice, admonishment and even the explicit will of the American bishops. For this they paid no apparent price, as there were always those who were willing to take what Notre Dame was offering, including successive presidents of the United States.
Now someone has finally said No. And not just someone, but a woman who has ennobled everything she has lent her name to. It will be noticed on May 17 that someone thought some things more important than Notre Dame’s honors; that someone thought some things more important than basking in the glow of a popular president; that someone thought 25 years of deliberate confusion, evasion, equivocation and deception from Notre Dame on abortion politics was enough.
Glendon will not collect her Laetare Medal. In not doing so, she has proved worthy of the honor; please God, her courageous decision will make Notre Dame more worthy of the honors it seeks to give.
I say, God bless Ambassador Glendon.
The previous paragraphs are a real indictment of the university to this point.
Fr Powell is impressed:
The most telling element of this letter is Prof. Glendon’s assertion that she is declining the medal and the invitation b/c Jenkins used her attendance in his “talking points” to cloud the issue of The One’s invitation with a thin veneer of “balance.” She also spanks him for ignoring the USCCB’s guidelines on not inviting and honoring pro-abortion speakers on Catholic campuses.
Good for her!
William is impressed:
This is one brave Catholic Woman…
The Curt Jester is impressed:
Now it will be interesting to see if Notre Dame decides to award this to someone else or to just not issue it this year. I think they would have a hard time finding somebody authentically pro-life that would accept this as she has declined it. So I would guess that it is not issued this year. It would add another scandal if they picked someone nominally pro-life as they did last year with Martin Sheen. I protested his pick last year since while he calls himself pro-life he does nothing to advance the cause and solidly supports pro-abortion Democrats. So will they be calling Doug Kmiec? — I hope not.
Personally I am very proud. It is so easy to just give in, that is the biggest advantage of sin, it just flows so calmly that you don’t see the gates until you are through them. To do the right thing is always hard, and it will cost her a lot, but that price won’t include her soul.
Pray for her.
Update: At the corner Mike Potemra is disappointed:
If anyone could have made the pro-life case on a podium that would be — on that day, at least — the World’s Greatest Platform, it would have been Mary Ann Glendon. It would have been a tough task — to express a serious disagreement with the most famous man in the world, in his presence, while at the same time not coming across as bullying, confrontational, or point-scoring — but I think she could have done it better than just about anyone else I could imagine. The day is coming when the taking of innocent human life at the fetal stage will be illegal in this country, and I think Ambassador Glendon’s speech could have helped bring that day closer. Are we pro-lifers confident that the pro-life witness at the commencement ceremony will be anywhere near as impressive as her remarks would have been?
The Anchoress seconds the motion:
But part of me wishes Glendon had not pulled back. I had a hope -call me a whimsical dreamer- that somehow the Holy Spirit would use the event, and the shared dais, to give us a real contrast between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. And I had also hoped that upon meeting Glendon, President Obama would go all “post-partisan” like he said he would and realize she was a terrific Ambassador to the Vatican and send her back there.
Faith in the Holy Spirit is good and I suspect it is that faith that made her decide not to go.
Update 2: Don Surber takes the majority view:
As a Methodist, I am struck by the respectful way people are protesting his speech.
Hey Don we’d be happy to have you anytime.
Update 3: Missed powerline:
The Bishop of South Bend has aleady said he will not attend Norte Dame’s commencement, the first one he has missed in 25 yeras. The Bishop suggested that, by inviting Obama, Notre Dame had placed “prestige” over “truth.” Mary Ann Glendon has demonstrated that, by contrast, she places the fundamental truths of her religion above prestige.
You know there was a time long ago when I would have never missed powerline.