Invited to speak as the recipient of the Laetare Medal, Prof. Glendon, former ambassador to the Vatican & feminist pro-life Harvard Professor, soon saw that Fr. Jenkins also hoped that her presence and speech would “balance out” the graduation now dominated by the most pro-abortion politician, President Obama.
Prof. Glendon was placed in an unsavory position. As it turned out, Prof. Glendon felt she had to refuse the Laetare Medal and not participate in the graduation.
The first factor Glendon mentioned was her work as a “longtime consultant” to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, which caused her to become “dismayed” that Notre Dame “planned to award the president an honorary degree.” This action, she said, would “disregard” the U.S. Bishop’s “Catholic’s in Political Life” document.
Glendon also rebuffed the idea that the teaching “seeks to control or interfere” with a Catholic institution’s “freedom to invite and engaged in serious debate whomever it wishes.”
The former Vatican ambassador also took exception to Fr. Jenkin’s “talking point” that awarding the Laetare Medal to her would “balance the event.” Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop John D’Arcy also criticized Jenkins’ “talking points” by calling them “wrong” and a “flawed justification.”
“A commencement,” Ms. Glendon wrote, “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.”
She also worried that Notre Dame’s decision is having a “ripple effect” that is encouraging other Catholic institutions to ignore the U.S. Bishop’s teaching.
“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 concluded.