Monday, April 27, 2009

Glendon to Jenkins: I won't be used

Former Ambassador to the Vatican and Harvard prof Mary Ann Glendon has declined Notre Dame's prestigious Laetare Medal and will not stand on the same platform with President Obama during the Notre Dame commencement exercise. Fearing that her actions might be misunderstood or interpreted maliciously she publicly released her rejection letter to Fr. Jenkins. Here are a few quotes but read the whole thing to get a sense of tone.

"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."

Congratulations to Dr. Glendon for refusing to be used as Obama's foil. She, no doubt, had been invited to serve as a "balance" and to show how Notre Dame welcomes all points of view. She said, "I will not be co-opted." Now it's up to the students to rise to the occasion and avoid being co-opted.


  1. AL!!! Welcome to the Catholic blogosphere....

    I was just thinking about two weeks ago when I got one of your email updates that you needed a blog.

    God bless and I'm very glad to see this blog. We'll have you sending out tweets on Twitter yet too (lol).

    On Ambassador Glendon: God bless her for seeing it for what it was.

  2. Welcome to the blogosphere!

    from one who loved your interview of Bishop Athanasius Schneider! Stay strong!

    (I have a nice picture of Senator John Kerry with the papal nuncio on my blog. It's too bad he had less @#$%@s than Mrs. Glendon!)

    p.s. Mrs. Korzeniewski, your blog has the best name of all!