Wow! Mary Ann Glendon Declines ND Invite

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.

Update XVIVLVPVI: David Freddoso of The Corner reports that Notre Dame intends to give the award to someone else. But who else would take it now? David has an idea here.


  1. God Bless You Mary Ann Glendon, and Thank You. Suzanne

  2. Wow! This woman is a saint on earth! If only Fr. Jenkins could see so clearly.

  3. Could the contrast be any more clear?

  4. Mary Ann Glendon - hells yeah!

  5. How blessed to have someone live her beliefs in the public square in such a thoughful and principled manner.

  6. We are blessed in Mary Ann Glendon. May Fr. Jenkins understand what she is saying.

  7. To paraphrase Frank Sinatra, "that's why the Lady is a Lady."

  8. God bless you Mary Ann Glendon.

  9. As a Notre Dame Graduate I applaud her decision. Father Jenkins and the Board cannot serve two masters as they try to do. Believe me, they will go ahead with honoring The President. Arrogance is their strong suit. Mother Mary weeps.

  10. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is why the Church loves women!

  11. This is a tremendous embarrassment to Notre Dame... I would have waited longer to ensure that they could not find another recipient for the medal, but this is awesome.


  12. Just last week I was talking to a friend of mine who helps run the Replace Jenkins website - and we were talking about this very thing, wondering if it was going to happen or not. Well, wonder no more. This is excellent news! God bless Mary Ann Glendon!

  13. How many of you responding to this, citing the weeping of Mother Mary and the blessing of Mary Ann Glendon, actually attended or have anything to do with the University of Notre Dame? What gives you the right to make such smug comments?

    I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 2008. The ceremony was a celebration from start to finish - a celebration of completion, of a job well done, of the start of a new chapter in our lives. It was not a forum to debate about anything. We were challenged to go out into the world, to make the most of our experiences and education, to change it and make it better.

    Isn't that how every commencement is supposed to be? On that day, it didn't matter who was Catholic and who wasn't, who had been a member of ND Right to Life and who had performed in the Vagina Monologues. On that day, we came together as one, hugged each other one last time, and turned around to face the world, forever changed by our four years under the golden dome.

    Shame on all of you for celebrating Mary Ann Glendon's poor decision to not attend the graduation. ESPECIALLY shame on LarryD and the Replace Jenkins website. Commencement isn't a time for politics. It's about the students sitting in uncomfortable chairs, wearing funny hats and medals, terrified about what comes next. Who better to inspire them to greatness than the leader of the free world?

    Mary Ann Glendon is missing an opportunity to provide even more inspiration, to move an entire arena full of graduating students toward a life of greatness.

    Shame on her, shame on all of you. Find something better to do with your time than to argue about something you cannot possibly understand.

  14. Thank you, Mary Ann Glendon, for reminding us all to live our principles. I am sure this decision was difficult. I concur with the idea that there has been a ripple effect.

  15. I should have mentioned I am an alumna. I love Notre Dame, but the ND I came to love as a child, nott the new "secular" version.

  16. To the 2008 alum....
    i agree with parts of your comment as i put myself in your would ring true if Notre Dame was a secular school not promoting the Catholic principles she was built upon and once embraced fully....we Catholics must not go down the slippery slope of "acceptance" (in such matters), due to the risk of causing grave scandal to those looking to Catholic Institutions to stand for truth...this opportunity is not about politics or is about truth...we MUST stand for it, lest we become lax in our beliefs, given us by Christ Himself....

    God's peace and blessings to you, dear one, and your great accomplishments!

  17. What gives us the right to comment (smug or not is open to interpretation)? As a Catholic, I reserve the right to comment about actions taken by nominally Catholic organizations, so long as my comments are not contrary to the teachings of the Church.

    Inviting a politician to speak adds a huge political factor to the commencement ceremony, no matter what. The awarding of an honor to a politician in opposition to the recommendations/regulations of the USCCB is abhorrent, and as Catholics we have the right to be upset and voice that upset. Fr. Jenkins is playing politics with the commencement, currying favor with Obama by awarding him an honorary law degree.

    Who are you to try and shame people into silence? Where do you get the idea that we can't comment on happenings at a Catholic university unless we attend(ed) or are otherwise involved with that university?

  18. I graduated from Notre Dame - and I support Mary Ann Glendon's decision to turn down the Laetare Medal. It is very sad to see how Notre Dame has opted to chase prestige over truth. If ND is Catholic it should act like it - as it is I think a good state university with a good Newman center like Texas A&M is probably a better choice for Catholic students.

  19. Mary Ann Glendon demonstrates the most noble aspect of a true Catholic. She loves her Catholic faith more than questionable worldly honors. For this, I am sure that she will receive special honors in Heaven when she arrives there.

  20. My money is on Doug Kmiec. That would be hilarious and consistent with the show that Ringmaster Jenkins and Co. have initiated. Or Britney Spears ....

  21. First of all, thank God for Mary Ann Glendon's witness to the faith.

    Kids may not see beyond their little party but the impact of honoring Obama during this event is grave. If you don't get it by now, ask someone who does. Also, the students do not own the university even if you think you do. It is there at the service of the faith community, the Roman Catholic Church.

  22. I graduated from ND in '08 and I likewise support Mary Ann Glendon's decision.

    @Anon '08 -- bring it. I double dog dare you. It's not about politics, tough-guy. It's about fidelity. There's a difference and you'd better get savvy before it's too late.

    God Bless,

  23. A round of applause for Mary Ann Glendon for backing up her faith and principles and relinquishing the glory which was meant to cleverly conceal an obvious mistake. Catholics in this time and place must fight for the faith and act in a manner that strengthens the word of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI and our Catholic Bishops. Our Catholic faith is a precious gift - and there are those who are trying to destroy it. We must take Ms. Glendon's example with the highest regard and follow her example.

  24. It appears that women have always been the strongest and the first to have the courage to support and defend the Catholic Faith, beginning with Mary Magdalene. Mary Ann Glendon is a woman we can all admire for her selflessness and intelligence. May God bless her abundantly. And when, Oh God, will institutions that insist on calling themselves Catholic be expunged from list of proven Catholic institutions. Does it take courage from the Bishops or from the Vatican? One can only continue to pray for this cleansing.

  25. As for the person above who asked "How many of you actually have anything to do with Notre Dame". . . I do. Or did. God bless Mary Ann Glendon.

    Class of '82

  26. I can see a possible future when Lucifer welcomes Father Jenkins to his eternal punishment. And Father Jenkins will reply that he's merely there to dialogue....

    I hope he avoids that possible future, and I'll pray for him.

  27. I am not a graduate of Notre Dame, but I was invested in the Miraculous Medal many years ago. All I can say is God bless Mary Ann Glendon for her stand, and may the Good Lord give me such fortitude as hers.

  28. Anon 08- Who do YOU think YOU are? Having attended ND or not has NOTHING to do with what's happening! As a devout Roman Catholic, I have every right to speak out.

    And you nailed it with the statement that commencement is no place for dialogue... well DUH... that's what everyone's been trying to tell Fr. Jenkin's who used that very phrase to justify why he invited Obama in the first place!!!

    Everyone that has been to a graduation knows that the speaker doesn't get up to debate, they get up to MONOLOGUE and unfortunately, if they have idiotic views, then that's what we're stuck listening to. How *ANY*one can justify having an anti-life politician not only be the speaker but also receive an honorary award at what is supposed to be a prestigious university is beyond logical reasoning.

    Pax Christi,

  29. This is a true example of strength of character and standing by your convictions. God Bless Mary Ann Glendon!

  30. Cool lady. Thanks for being a real Catholic. Thank you for speaking your mind in a very kindly fashion. God Bless you.

  31. Truly a praiseworthy decision in the noble tradition of Elizabeth Anscombe.

  32. Good for her. I'm sure it was a difficult decision, but I commend her for making it.

  33. To Anon '08: Shame on me? You need to grow up, son. You don't even know me.

    My friend who helps run Replace Jenkins has a daughter attending there right now and he's seriously contemplating pulling her out - except she's a faithful Catholic who is trying to restore authentic Catholic culture at ND. Something you should have fought for while in attendance.

    As a Catholic, we have the right to talk about this issue - and when people like Mary Ann Glendon do the right thing, they are to be commended.

    Your opinion, however, means little if at all anything since you're not willing to put your name to your post.

  34. Glendon is wonderful, and it was a difficult decision for her, but God bless her it was the right one.

    I feel it is oddly fitting that, before having read this, I picked up Lay Siege to Heaven, a novel about Catherine of Sienna...

  35. Mary Ann Glendon is a game changer, as the pols are fond of saying now!

    I just love those St. Thomas More moments when they come along.

  36. WOW!! This was such good news and to witness such grace and courage... all I can say is WOW! God bless Mary Ann Glendon.

  37. "Mary Ann Glendon is missing an opportunity to provide even more inspiration, to move an entire arena full of graduating students toward a life of greatness."

    there is no greatness if she is participating in leading souls into scandal and down the wide path on the happy dance to Hell.

    "Shame on her, shame on all of you. Find something better to do with your time than to argue about something you cannot possibly understand."

    we understand, we understand Our Lady better than you, or appernetly Fr. Jenkins....Our Sorrowful Mother weeps for the souls falling into hell....espically the ones educated at a "Catholic" university, who lead others to scandal and breaking the 2nd commandment by using a holy name in vain!

    S. Marie

  38. I fully support Mary Ann Glendon's decision not to attend the commencement ceremony. She has my utmost respect! If only the majority of Catholics had her heart and courage, to stand up for our faith and its teachings, instead of cowing to popular culture and secular society. Mary Ann Glendon is a hero in my mind. Thank you and God Bless, Ms. Glendon!

  39. There are two issues: is she comprising herself by her presence there and being used to "equalize?" The other is the impact that she would have if she was present. However the bottom line is that she is a prayerful woman, and undoubedly has been led by the Spirit to decline -- and who can argue with Christ's decision within her?

  40. This entire exercise was meant to accomplish one thing and one thing only: divide Catholics into two camps. The first step of this highly calculated process occurred back in November when millions of Catholics voted for the abortionist candidate. Phase II began back in February when the White House (Axelrod, Emmanuel, et al) went trolling for an invitation to a high profile Catholic university. Like a calculating hunter they captured their quarry and it's been bloodshed ever since. Evil permeates this entire situation. Divided we will fall...and Mary Ann Glendon is a person of tremendous faith, intellect and courage who saw through this veiled attempt of serving as someone's shill. DHS -- Columbus, Ohio

  41. At the risk of flogging a dead horse:

    Young graduate from 2008: I do not think that any of the comments made, save yours (and perhaps this one) were or are smug.

    I graduated from the University of Notre Dame in 1982 (I know, I am old enough to be dismissed as irrelevant). All that you said about your graduation was true of my graduation. I was so proud to be a graduate of ND. And it made my parents and grandparents proud as well. What a brilliant day it was. And to top it off, I was fortunate enough to be able to share the day with my wife, who graduated along with me. And you are right, that is how every commencement is supposed to be.

    You say shame on all of us for celebrating Mary Ann Glendon’s decision. I agree with you here. To the extent that anyone is actually celebrating her decision, they should not be. It is tragic. Only those of us who are close to both the University of Notre Dame and the Catholic Church can begin to imagine the agony she must have felt while discerning this decision. She must be devastated to be awarded the Laetare Medal, a formerly great honor now reduced to the status of just any award from any university.

    You say commencement isn't a time for politics. I agree with you, but then why invite a career politician? Those responding to Father Jenkins' decision are not the ones who politicized this commencement. Father Jenkins politicized the commencement. In a naked effort to grab secular prestige and power, Father Jenkins went against the USCCB. Then Father Jenkins obtained the services of shaky canon lawyers to attempt to redefine words to cloud the meaning of the USCCB guidelines. For Father Jenkins, the president of the pre-eminent Catholic University in the US, not to have a good and working understanding of the USCCB guidelines is an embarrassment. That he would hide behind the robes of his lawyers who are arguing what he knows not to be true is truly shocking.

    You ask: "Who better to inspire [those in the graduating class] to greatness than the leader of the free world?" Well, there is a whole lot that can be said in response to this question. I will limit my comments to one question in return: How is it that the leader of the free world does not recognize the freedom of all of the people in his own country? For the freedom to live one's life is the first and foremost freedom anyone can have. And, by his policies, President Obama is denying that very freedom to countless children every day.

    You say that Mary Ann Glendon is missing her moment to provide even more inspiration. I suggest that she has not missed her moment, but rather that she has taken her moment in glorious fashion. There is likely not a student on campus who is unaware of the controversy surrounding the upcoming commencement and the role Ambassador Glendon has taken therein. Her teaching moment is ongoing and will forever be planted in the hearts of the 2009 class. There are those in the class who agree with her and applaud her; there are those in the class who currently disagree with her. Of the latter, many, as they grow up and reflect later in life on Professor Glendon’s decision, will come to understand why she did what she did and even applaud the decision.

    You say shame on Mary Ann Glendon. I say, shame on Father Jenkins and, by extension, shame on Father Hesburgh, who I am sure is behind all of this and who is most likely providing political direction and immoral support to Father Jenkins in his stand against the Catholic Church.

    You call down shame upon Professor Glendon and upon all of us. I say, there is no shame in standing up for the downtrodden. And who is more downtrodden in this age than those who are not even allowed to be born?

    Finally, in light of the news that Father Jenkins is currently looking for someone else to receive the Laetare Medal, and since it is unlikely that anyone who is anti-abortion would accept the award after this, I have a suggestion for Father Jenkins. Give the award post mortem to Margaret Sanger. The secular media would absolutely love it. President Obama would gush. And you can thereby close the circle.

  42. CMR: Any truth to the Washington rumor that Mrs. Obama is being vetted for the Laetare stand-in spot?

  43. TragicallyUnhipMomNotMissingSpectorApril 28, 2009 at 8:09 PM

    First of all, I vehemently despise it when folks post under "anonymous.' Come on, can't you think of a clever, witty name to call yourself if you don't want to use your "real name?" Geesh! Please do me the honor of having something to refer to you by other than "anonymous." Very boring. Very uninspirational.

    Secondly, two thumbs up plus my two big toes for the Professor (and all other digits as well). This woman is setting an example for ALL of us. May God grant each of us the courage to follow in her footsteps and be bold and courageous in not just our faith but our committment to defending life, especially at its most vulnerable stage - in utero.

    Now, please, come up with a more clever name than "anonymous." Thank you. Yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawn.


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