Declining Notre Dame
Good title. It’s the letter scholar and former US ambassador to the
Vatican Mary Ann Glendon sent to Notre Dame president Fr. Jenkins. She
published it through the media because of the likelihood that it would
be misrepresented somehow by the unversity for their purposes.
But after it was printed in full on First Things, the site crashed. At least twice today. Insight Scoop
reported that it was back up when, in fact, it went down again. There
must have been an enormous crush of traffic to the site, since it was
one of the stories of the day.
As Insight noted, Fr. Raymond de Souza put Glendon’s actions into pivotal perspective:
Father John Jenkins likely thought himself very clever. Professor Mary Ann Glendon just took him to school.
In declining to receive the Laetare Medal alongside President Barack
Obama’s honorary doctorate of laws at next month’s commencement,
Glendon has refused to participate in the shabby manipulation Father
Jenkins attempted to engineer. It is a rare personage who could ennoble
an award by refusing to receive it, but Professor Glendon has done just
that. The Laetare Medal will now be known best for the year in which it
was declined. Glendon chose, to use the apt words of Bishop John D’Arcy
in this regard, truth over prestige.
The significance of Glendon’s refusal is enormous. The most
accomplished Catholic laywoman in America — former ambassador of the
United States to the Holy See and current president of the Pontifical
Academy of Social Sciences — has refused to accept Notre Dame’s highest
honor. It is a signal moment for the Catholic Church in the United
States. It is a signal moment for the Church’s public witness. It is
may even be a signal moment for Notre Dame. What Glendon will not say
at Notre Dame will finally be a fitting response to what Gov. Mario
Cuomo said there some 25 years ago.
The scales tipped considerably today with the weight of this move by Glendon.
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