Harvard professor and former US ambassador to the Holy See, Mary Ann Glendon, has declined a major award from the University of Notre Dame in protest over the university's decision to grant President Barack Obama an honorary doctorate.
Professor Glendon indicated that she decided to decline the university's Laetare Medal because of her concerns about the commencement address that will be delivered by President Barack Obama, Catholic World News reports.
In an April 27 letter to Fr John Jenkins, the president of Notre Dame, she wrote that a prospect "that once seemed so delightful has been complicated" by the Obama appearance and by Notre Dame's response to criticism from the American bishops.
A commencement celebration, she said, "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 to invite Obama in defiance of clear guidance from the US bishops.
"As a longtime consultant to the US 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," Professor Glendon wrote.
"This, as you must know, was in disregard of the US bishops' express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions 'should not honour those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles' and that such persons 'should not be given awards, honours or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.'
"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.
"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 concluded.
Glendon declines commencement honor from Notre Dame (Catholic World News)
Declining Notre Dame: A letter from Mary Ann Glendon (First Things) (Full text)
Mary Ann Glendon (Wikipedia)
University of Notre Dame, Indiana
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