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April 28, 2009

Prestigious scholar Mary Ann Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard, and former U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican. She was informed last December that she was to receive Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal at the university’s annual Commencement exercises, a great honor that she was looking forward to.

Then came the news that the Commencement speaker would be President Barack Obama, and that he would receive an honorary law degree. Her reaction appeared in a letter to Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the President of Notre Dame University. Some excerpts:

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” . . .

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. . .

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.

Professor Glendon’s letter is a bold rebuke to to Notre Dame University for setting aside its historic pro-life principles. She should be commended for her strong stand on behalf of human life.

Newsweek Article

Full Text of Professor Glendon’s Letter

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