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
Monday, April 27, 2009
At Least Someone Cares About What The Bishops Say
As you may, or may not, have heard; Notre Dame University is bestowing an honorary degree to one, President Barrack Obama. This goes completely against what the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) says when it comes to Catholic universities giving honorary degrees to people, such as President Obama, that go against what the Church teaches, especially in regard to life and other moral principles.
Yeah, yeah Roger, we've heard all about it, so?
Well, what may have missed in all the hullaboo over the President and his commencement speech, was the fact that another person was to be honored, Mary Ann Glendon, the former Ambassador to the Vatican. She was to receive the Laetare Medal, because of all that she has done with spreading the message of the Church, and especially it's stand on life of the unborn, something that the President doesn't believe in. Just look at his record, if you don't believe me. It is also why I have the Fight FOCA banner on my blog, because it's one of the promises that the President made as a bill that he would sign, once it was brought to his attention. Thankfully, it hasn't made it there, yet.
Anyway, Mary Ann Glendon has decided to decline the Notre Dame invite, because as you can see below, she feels that she is being used inappropriately. All I can say is good for her.