Zenit reports today that former US Ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon has declined receipt of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal Award at this year’s ND graduation ceremony. Full text of her letter to ND President Fr. John Jenkins is here.
She explained, “First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree.
This 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,'” she pointed out.
Glendon noted, “That request, which in no way seeks to control or interfere with an institution’s freedom to invite and engage in serious debate with whomever it wishes, seems to me so reasonable that I am at a loss to understand why a Catholic university should disrespect it.”
Glendon acknowledged her discovery of “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to criticism over its decision.
These points, she added, imply that her “acceptance speech would somehow balance the event,” by arguing that President Obama would not be the only one talking at the commencement ceremony, and that he would benefit from hearing a talk by the former ambassador.
However, Glendon emphasized that a commencement “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.”