President Barack Obama rocks XXII: But count Mary Ann Glendon out of the festivities...

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(Tim, w/thanks to several) Lots of readers have sent links to pieces commenting on President Barack Obama's invitation to give the Commencement Address at Notre Dame University this spring despite Notre Dame's purported affiliation with the Roman Catholic Church and President Obama's consistent ghoulish advocacy of baby-slaughter.

Honestly, I've not had the heart to say anything about it. Not out of respect for Notre Dame or the lowest-common denominator Roman Catholicism she's represented for decades, now. To me, Notre Dame is football, a good home for the world's top sorta-reformed, kinda-Protestant, sorta-evangelical scholars like Marsden, Hatch, and Plantinga; but mostly the school that resides in the same town a few hours north that's called home by E. Michael Jones.

Then, today, several of you sent me the letter just released by Mary Ann Glendon announcing her change of mind concerning being present at Notre Dame's Commencement to accept Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal. God bless Mary Ann Glendon!

Here's her letter...

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


• “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 an 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


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, 9:32 AM

* * *

(Mary Ann Glendon is Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School)