White House, Notre Dame Respond to Mary Ann Glendon’s Pro-Life Principles
by Steven Ertelt
April 27, 2009
South Bend, IN (LifeNews.com) — Former Vatican ambassador and Harvard professor Mary Ann Glendon is drawing praise from across the pro-life community for standing up to the University of Notre Dame. She turned down an award from the Catholic college because pro-abortion President Barack Obama will be giving commencement.
As LifeNews.com reported on Monday, Glendon wrote a letter to UND president John Jenkins telling him that he is compromising the Catholic identity of the college by inviting and honoring Obama.
Jenkins issued a response essentially dismissing her list of concerns without addressing the substance of any of them.
"We are, of course, disappointed that Professor Glendon has made this decision," he said. "It is our intention to award the Laetare Medal to another deserving recipient, and we will make that announcement as soon as possible."
The White House also issued a statement responding to the news that isn’t dissimilar to the response it issued to the initial wave of criticism.
President Obama is disappointed by former Ambassador Mary Glendons decision, but he looks forward to delivering an inclusive and respectful speech at the Notre Dame graduation, a school with a rich history of fostering the exchange of ideas," Jen Psaki, White House Deputy Press Secretary, said.
"While he is honored to have the support of millions of people of all faiths, he does not govern with the expectation that everyone sees eye to eye with him on every position, and the spirit of debate and healthy disagreement on important issues is part of what he loves about this country," she added.
Meanwhile, the pro-life community has been effusive in its praise for the distinguished law professor.
Notre Dame alumnus and Bioethics Defense Fund president and general counsel Nikolas T. Nikas told LifeNews.com that Glendon "is a remarkable woman who once again shows the world what it means to be a pro-life feminist."
"She is a human rights expert who knows exploitation when she sees it," he said. "Glendon has often used her influential voice to bring attention to the words of Alice Paul, the original drafter of the Equal Rights Amendment, who recognized that abortion is the ultimate exploitation of women.
He said pro-life advocates should join Glendon in urging Notre Dame to "recommit itself to the primacy of truth over prestige.
Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly joined in by saying Glendon was right to decline the University of Notre Dames offer of the prestigious Laetare Medal and a speaking platform.
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," he told LifeNews.com. "We urge Catholics nationwide to continue to pray that Notre Dame will end this scandal.
Dave Andrusko, who writes the national newspaper for the National Right to Life Committee, says Glendon’s decision and the outpouring of support for it, shows the opposition to Notre Dame’s decision to invite Obama hasn’t waned.
He also said defenders of Notre Dame’s decision can no longer cite Glendon’s participation in its graduation ceremonies as reason to support Jenkins’ defending Obama’s participation.
"People whose opinion I respect but who thought it was appropriate for Notre Dame to invite President Obama not infrequently cited Prof. Glendon’s presence as proof positive everybody would benefit," he writes. "But Glendon’s letter to [Jenkins] carefully pointed out why and how things had changed since she first accepted the invitation."
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