.- Less than a month before Notre Dameâs Commencement, the former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon has written President Jenkins to refuse the university's Laetare Medal, rebuffing his claim that her acceptance speech would somehow âbalanceâ the event.
Mary Ann Glendon, a pro-life feminist and Harvard professor, today released an open letter to Notre Dame President John I. Jenkins, in which she told Jenkins that she could not speak alongside President Obama at the May 17th Commencement exercises.
In her letter, Glendon related that she was initially âprofoundly movedâ at the news that she would receive Notre Dameâs coveted Laetare Medal. After hearing the news, she said she quickly began crafting an acceptance speech that she âhoped would be worthy of the occasion.â
In March, Glendon said that she received a phone call from Fr. Jenkins informing her that she would not be giving the commencement speech, but that instead President Obama would fill that role. Upon learning of the change of plans, Glendon said that a âtask that once seemed so delightfulâ had now been âcomplicated by a number of factors.â
The first factor Glendon mentioned was her work as a âlongtime consultantâ to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which caused her to become âdismayedâ that Notre Dame âplanned to award the president an honorary degree.â This action, she said, would âdisregardâ the U.S. Bishopâs âCatholicâs in Political Lifeâ document.
Glendon also rebuffed the idea that the teaching âseeks to control or interfereâ with a Catholic institution's âfreedom to invite and engaged in serious debate whomever it wishes.â
The former Vatican ambassador also took exception to Fr. Jenkin's âtalking pointâ that awarding the Laetare Medal to her would âbalance the event.â Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John DâArcy also criticized Jenkinsâ âtalking pointsâ by calling them âwrongâ and a âflawed justification.â
âA commencement,â Ms. Glendon wrote, âis 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 Dameâs decisionâin disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishopsâto honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Churchâs position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice.â
She also worried that Notre Dameâs decision is having a âripple effectâ that is encouraging other Catholic institutions to ignore the U.S. Bishopâs teaching.
âIt is with great sadness, therefore, that I have concluded that I cannot accept the Laetare Medal or participate in the May 17 graduation ceremony,â she concluded.
President Jenkins responded to the criticism by saying Notre Dame is âdisappointedâ with Glendonâs decision and that the university intends âto award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient.â
Notre Dame said they will make the âannouncement as soon as possible."