The Inspiring Courage of Mary Ann Glendon

Posted: Apr 28, 2009 10:45 AM

I applaud the courageous decision of my colleague, Professor Mary Ann Glendon of Harvard Law School, in refusing to accept the prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame at its commencement ceremony next month that will also feature President Barack Obama.

Professor Glendon was to receive the Laetare Medal, which is among the highest American awards for Roman Catholics, given to the most deserving Catholic for enriching academia through work that embodies the best of Catholic Church teaching. I have visited the Vatican with Professor Glendon, who has served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican for the past two years. When I served as the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Commission we talked at length about protecting the rights of the unborn.

Yesterday Ambassador Glendon released a letter to the president of Notre Dame, informing him that she cannot in good conscience receive the medal or participate in the graduation ceremony. She cites as part of her reasoning that Notre Dame was using the fact that she was being honored alongside President Obama as a way to deflect criticism for bestowing an honorary degree upon the most pro-abortion U.S. president in history, and having him give the commencement address at such a prestigious institution.

For years, I have fought for the unborn alongside Mary Ann Glendon. I can say from firsthand experience that she is one of the most brilliant, eloquent and effective pro-life advocates this nation has ever seen. It is a tremendous honor for any Roman Catholic to receive the Laetare Medal. To decline such an honor, along with the experience of addressing Notre Dame’s graduating class, out of conviction is a moving and courageous decision.

The bravery and self-sacrificing spirit of Mary Ann Glendon is an example to which we should all aspire.