Notre Dame to Finally Give Medal After Protest Following Barack Obama Speech

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Mar 15, 2010   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Notre Dame to Finally Give Medal After Protest Following Barack Obama Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
March 15
, 2010

South Bend, IN ( — The University of Notre Dame will finally award its Laetare Medal, an annual award given in recognition of outstanding service to the Roman Catholic church and society. The Catholic college delayed the award after former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon refused it over a controversy.

Glendon, a respected pro-life advocate and a Harvard law professor, said last year she would not speak at the University of Notre Dame because pro-abortion President Barack Obama was invited to give its commencement speech.

Notre Dame also awarded Obama with an honorary degree, which greatly upset pro-life Catholics.

Now, Notre Dame will present the medal to Dana Gioia, a former chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts who was appointed NEA chairman by President George W. Bush in 2003.

The Laetare Medal, which the university says is one of the most prestigious honors for American Catholics, has been given annually since 1883.

But Glendon submitted a letter to Notre Dame president, Rev. John 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 wrote at the time. "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."

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 said 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 was 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.

Sign Up for Free Pro-Life News From

Daily Pro-Life News Report Twice-Weekly Pro-Life
News Report
Receive a free daily email report from with the latest pro-life news stories on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here. Receive a free twice-weekly email report with the latest pro-life news headlines on abortion, euthanasia and stem cell research. Sign up here.