Former Vatican Ambassador Won’t Speak at Notre Dame Over Obama Controversy

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2009   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Former Vatican Ambassador Won’t Speak at Notre Dame Over Obama Controversy

by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 27
, 2009

South Bend, IN ( — Former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, a respected pro-life advocate and a Harvard law professor, says she will not speak at the University of Notre Dame because pro-abortion President Barack Obama will be giving the commencement address the same day.

The decision of Notre Dame president John Jenkins to invite Obama and award him an honorary degree has sparked national outrage.

Notre Dame officials tried to cushion the blow by awarding Glendon the Laetare Medal, an annual award given in recognition of outstanding service to the Roman Catholic church and society.

Glendon submitted a letter today to Jenkins saying she can neither accept the medal nor give a speech on the same day and sharing the same platform as a pro-abortion president.

"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," she said.

"I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree," Glendon writes.

"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," she writes.

Glendon told Jenkins she thinks the decision to honor Obama and allow him to address the graduating students at the Catholic college "was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request" in a 2004 document saying that Catholic educational institutions should not give platforms to abortion advocates.

She says the bishops’ document "seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it."

Glendon told Jenkins she is upset that he used her award as a defense of his inviting and honoring Obama and said she is upset by "statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event."

Glendon is also concerned about the effect of Notre Dame’s decision on the Catholic community.

"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," she said.

Glendon served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican from 2007 to 2009.

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