Green Room

The Spine of Mary Ann Glendon

posted at 12:02 pm on May 1, 2009 by

I wanted to use a stronger word than “spine,” actually, but it seemed improper.

Allah linked this yesterday, but I missed it, and the most interesting part seemed to have been missed by all but a few in the comments, as well. I don’t really have a strong opinion about abortion — I leave that fight to people who know more about the argument than I do — but I love it when people stand up for what they believe, no matter what the personal cost to them.

Mary Ann Glendon is one of those people. She’s a former ambassador for the United States to the Vatican, and possibly the most well-connected Catholic woman in the country. And she was scheduled to receive the highest honor awarded by Notre Dame, arguably the most famous American Catholic university. Until she realized she was being used.

In her letter [to Notre Dame's president, the Rev. John I. Jenkins], Glendon cited “talking points” issued by Notre Dame following criticism of the decision to honor Obama, including that:

(1) “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”

(2) “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”

Glendon, who is no mortal’s pawn, decided she couldn’t accept the award.

If I may be immature for a moment: Ooh, BURN!

Rather than let the university use her as a “fig leaf” to deflect criticism of the school, from fellow Catholics and the Church, about Obama’s extremely lenient, even encouraging, stance on abortion — or to attempt to cynically counterbalance his beliefs, she turned down the Laetare Medal, flat.

This decision won’t hurt her, really. I’m sure she has no need for medals. And it won’t hurt Obama, or sway his position on the abortion argument. It may have no long-term effect at all. But it’s so gratifying to see someone truly act on her beliefs, instead of simply talking the talk and then caving in and opting to “go along to get along.” (As Notre Dame seems perfectly happy to do.) Obviously, some concessions are necessary in life, and in politics, but not when it’s a question of surrendering your deepest beliefs.

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Did I hear that Notre Dame decided against awarding the Laetare Medal after Ms. Glendon turned it down? Or was I dreaming?

Knucklehead on May 1, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Did I hear that Notre Dame decided against awarding the Laetare Medal after Ms. Glendon turned it down? Or was I dreaming?

Knucklehead on May 1, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Yes. They’re going with a past awardee.

It looks like he’s pro-contraception, if I’m reading this article correctly.

South Bend, Ind., Apr 30, 2009 / 05:02 pm (CNA).- Following former Vatican Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon’s refusal of the University of Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal, 1984 medal recipient Judge John T. Noonan, Jr. has accepted an invitation to deliver a speech “in the spirit of the award” at the school’s commencement.

The university said his speech will take place in lieu of awarding the medal. Glendon turned down the award after a month of intense controversy over its invitation of President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and to receive an honorary law degree. Glendon, who had originally been asked to deliver the commencement address, objected to university president Rev. John I. Jenkins’ use of her appearance in talking points claiming she would “balance the event.”

A commencement, she added, is not the right place “for engagement with the very serious problems raised by Notre Dame’s decision,” a decision she said disregarded the “settled position” of the U.S. bishops against honoring pro-abortion rights politicians.

In an April 30 statement Father Jenkins said Judge Noonan was an “ideal choice” because he could bring “a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values,” especially in “these unusual circumstances.”

Judge Noonan, who was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in 1985 by President Ronald Reagan, was the Laetare Medal’s 1984 recipient. He has also been a consultant for the Presidential Commission on Population, the National Institutes of Health and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

An author of numerous books, Noonan has also been a consultant for several Catholic Church agencies, governor of the Canon Law Society of America, and director of the National Right to Life Committee, a press release from Notre Dame reports.

However, Noonan’s scholarly work has promoted dissent from the Church’s teaching on contraception.

He taught at Notre Dame Law School from 1961 to 1966 and has also taught at the University of California Law School at Berkeley.

The Notre Dame press release noted that Glendon had declined the 2009 Laetare Medal.

“Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year,” Fr. Jenkins explained.

“This commencement ceremony, more than anything else, is a celebration of our students and their families. Judge Noonan will join with President Obama and other speakers in that celebration, sending them from our campus and into the world with sound advice and affirmation,” he said.

Y-not on May 1, 2009 at 12:46 PM

Push back.

That is what is needed.

Not ranting and all sorts of public exhibition, hysterics carried wide…though there is utility in that.

Having people such as Mary Ann Glendon, or Andrew McCarthy, and others in public life though not politicians, take a public and clear stand, based on more than ego…but on morals…or character…or just plain common sense…and push back against the tide of the Left, the Obamatrons, and Obama himself…and a Congress that is now no different than the old Supreme Soviet, rubber stamping legislation, or enacting legislation to show their loyalty to Obama and Obamaism more than loyalty to the Nation.

As each public figure pushes back, we, us, must assume our role and make sure the word gets out, so that others can see they will not be dragged away into the night, nor sent to a media driven gulag for their dissent. If we say nothing, then they can be taken to that figurative gulag by an Obama adoring press…never to be heard from again.

As more of us, the People, see this, the more prone will we be to engage in that same measured pushback. And having examples of public figures who are willing to shout “Basta!” at the top of their lungs…we, too, can do the same.

The Tea Parties are a venue, not an end all be all.

Mary Ann Glendon and her new role as refusnik to the Obama Administration is a start of another, and potentially powerful, venue.

Support this with all you have in you.

coldwarrior on May 1, 2009 at 1:26 PM

coldwarrior on May 1, 2009 at 1:26 PM

You are describing what Americans have stopped doing: Standing up for what is right & the truth, consequences be damned.
Doing such things cost me my 1st professional job-& I would be happy to do it all over again.
I’m no hero-but clearly, not enough people have ba!!s enough to do stuff like this.
So sad.
Kudos to this brave woman.

Badger40 on May 1, 2009 at 2:06 PM

I don’t really have a strong opinion about abortion — I leave that fight to people who know more about the argument than I do

How old are you? 12?

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Mary Ann Glendon is a hero in my book, and the President of Notre Dame a coward. If the address by BHO goes forward every graduating student and parent in attendance should turn their back on Obama for duration of commencement…

IntheNet on May 1, 2009 at 2:19 PM

How old are you? 12?

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 2:12 PM

What’s your point in that comment? It’s not her issue. Why mock her for that, especially in a post where she’s showing a good deal of respect to a pro-lifer?

That’s beyond immature.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 2:32 PM

Well done Ambassador Glendon. She sets a fine example or principle over politics. Perhaps more at my alma mater would follow her lead.

IndyConserv on May 1, 2009 at 2:34 PM

My views on this series of events have evolved with a clearer perception of the circumstances, and I have come to view Father Jenkins sympathetically.

Others have noted that a standing invitation to the sitting President to speak at the University is understood to exist. Maybe that should be reconsidered by Notre Dame in light of the fact that this President – and clearly others before him – hold views on public policy that are offensive to the church.

But it seems likely that the Obama administration cynically contacted Notre Dame to “accept” this invitation, rather than the other way around, leaving Jenkins in a no-win position. Now, from what I perceive about Jenkins, this was an honor to him, anyway, but the point remains that there was never any way he was going to refuse the first black President of the U.S. the opportunity to spew his propaganda at ND.

For what it’s worth, Obama also has the support of a significant majority of ND students and alumni, so the opposition to his presence remains a vocal minority who just happen to be the only ones following the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

Father Jenkins, no matter his other faults, never had a choice in this matter, and his recognition of Glendon may have in fact been his only option for speaking Catholic truth to secular political power.

As an anti-abortion Christian with a daughter at Notre Dame, I am inspired by Glendon’s remarkable decision. As a conservative, partisan Republican, I am delighted to see Obama placed in a position of ridicule, especially one of his own idiotic making.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM

How old are you? 12?

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 2:12 PM

Bad form.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 3:01 PM

This decision won’t hurt her, really. I’m sure she has no need for medals. And it won’t hurt Obama, or sway his position on the abortion argument. It may have no long-term effect at all. But it’s so gratifying to see someone truly act on her beliefs, instead of simply talking the talk and then caving in and opting to “go along to get along.” (As Notre Dame seems perfectly happy to do.) Obviously, some concessions are necessary in life, and in politics, but not when it’s a question of surrendering your deepest beliefs.

Someone get ready for a tongue lashing from the moderates. Courage, loyalty, and principles are not ways to enlarge a tent.

/sarc

DFCtomm on May 1, 2009 at 3:05 PM

I’m a Catholic and a few years ago my wife and I and a few others started a high school. We were made aware very early in the planning process that we simply could not call ourselves a Catholic high school, we had to have approval. Now I had no problem with that because you have to prove yourself and we were prepared to do that.

We started out with 8 kids and now – 5 years later – we up to 50. So the school is doing well, though its a constant struggle to keep it going. We are faithful to Catholic doctrine and Catholic principals and we are now a Catholic high school and proud of it.

I only bring this up because there is no instrinsic right for Notre Dame to call itself Catholic and if it were in my power I would not have staged a protest, made any speeches — I would not have done anything like that.

I would have simply rescinded the ability of Notre Dame to call itself Catholic. I would have just called up the board the day after their decision to give Obama an honorary degree and told them they while they “owned” the term Notre Dame, they could no longer refer to themselves in any mailing, official correspondence, on the Web site, anywhere, as Catholic.

And then I would have hung up the phone.

No debate. No discussion. No impassioned pleas for them to change their mind. They knew what they were doing and why. So, pardon me — screw ‘em.

One more thing. I was at a shrine the other day – a beautiful shrine – and it had a memorial to the unborn. The memorial was also beautiful and it had been built from donations from hundreds or thousands of Catholics. And I thought of those people who gave from their savings to the shrine and to this memorial and then I thought of the hundreds of Catholics I know who have stood for hours in rain outside of an abortion clinic, giving silent witness to sanctity of life.

And Notre Dame has betrayed them all. Notre Dame has said to all those protestors standing in the rain, all of those people who have worked for the sanctity of life, and all of the priests who stood courageously against the tide of political correctness, “you are fools, you are not relevant, and your sacrifices mean nothing to us.”

Screw ‘em again I say. They are not worth a protest. Let them enjoy the fruits of their academic freedom. They’re welcome to it.

But don’t ever let them again call themselves Catholic.

PackerBronco on May 1, 2009 at 3:14 PM

Others have noted that a standing invitation to the sitting President to speak at the University is understood to exist. Maybe that should be reconsidered by Notre Dame in light of the fact that this President – and clearly others before him – hold views on public policy that are offensive to the church.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 3:00 PM

I think that the biggest issue is the fact that they are honoring him with a degree. It’s not a matter of him just giving a speech. As far as I know there is no obligation to give anyone an honorary degree. Especially when the leaders of the organization you are supposedly loyal to specifically tell you that you cannot honor someone with his history of abortion support.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 3:16 PM

Bad form.

Jaibones on May 1, 2009 at 3:01 PM

What’s “bad form” about asking someone who claims to not have an opinion on abortion, because they don’t know enough about it, how old they are?

What’s to know?

Unless you’re 12 years old?

OK, maybe she doesn’t have access to a dictionary.

Oh, wait. This is the internet, isn’t it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is.

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM

That’s stupid. If I were to claim I just don’t know enough about calculus, you’d could reply the exact same thing.

She’s actually treating this issue with respect. You are not.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 3:50 PM

While I admire Ms. Glendon’s stance; it would have been so much sweeter if she would have spoken, and had given a verbal beat down to Obama and Notre Dame.

mockmook on May 1, 2009 at 3:51 PM

That’s stupid. If I were to claim I just don’t know enough about calculus, you’d could reply the exact same thing.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 3:50 PM

An opinion on a moral question is nothing like technical knowledge of an arithmetic process. Just because I may not know exactly HOW cyanide may kill a person doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on whether or not it is ok to slip it into someone’s drink.

You are correct…in order to make a decision about something you need to have some knowledge of it. I think the point is that there is no shortage of information on what abortion is, what it looks like, how its done. I can’t imagine someone NOT having an opinion about it given the amount of information floating around out there, unless it is being intentionally ignored.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 4:07 PM

Just because I may not know exactly HOW cyanide may kill a person doesn’t mean I can’t have an opinion on whether or not it is ok to slip it into someone’s drink.

You do need to know that if you’re arguing that cyanide is an inhumane way to kill someone.

And that’s the thing. You don’t know where Tanya stands on the issue at all. It could be that the very thing that bugs her is whether or not the baby feels any pain, and that’s something we do not have information on.

Or she could be like many others and feel that when life begins is difficult but ultimately subject to when a being is conscious, something else we have little information on.

Truth is, it’s a complex issue. To pretend otherwise is to be as shallow as calling a grown woman a child.

I can’t imagine someone NOT having an opinion about it given the amount of information floating around out there, unless it is being intentionally ignored.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 4:07 PM

I’m sure she does have an opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s fully formed or that she feels as though it’s solid enough to be shared and dissected.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 4:11 PM

It is because the university was honoring Obama with an honorary degree that the protests came about. The fact that he is speaking is deplorable and I think it’s true that Obama could have refused in deference to Catholicism. In my mind, it is just another example of his petty vindictiveness toward anyone who dares to criticize him. But, if it was just a commencement speech, I think this protest would not have occurred.

Let me say though that we are seeing something. People are making their voices heard. From the tea parties, to this backlash against ND, to Miss America and now this brave woman, conservatives are standing up and not backing down when confronted with liberal vitriol.

God Bless everyone doing this. It is what will turn the tide of this country. But, we must no give up too easily. Stay Strong.

Jvette on May 1, 2009 at 4:13 PM

I’m sure she does have an opinion. That doesn’t mean it’s fully formed or that she feels as though it’s solid enough to be shared and dissected.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Ditto. That’s a valid choice for a person to make, and she should be respected for saying so. The comments by spaning and Jaynie59 are either insulting or bullying (or both).

The point of the article, and subject for discussion is Ms. Glendon and the moral stand she is taking against a huge university and liberal idealogue.

Tanya does not have to share any viewpoint on abortion to show respect for another person taking a stand for what they believe in.

connertown on May 1, 2009 at 4:25 PM

You do need to know that if you’re arguing that cyanide is an inhumane way to kill someone.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 4:11 PM

Umm…Is it ever “humane” to kill someone by any means?

I have no problem with Tanya’s post. I liked the point she made regarding Mary Ann Glendon. I just took issue with your equating knowledge of calculus to the moral question of whether or not it is ok to kill an unborn child.

Seeing as I am against abortion, I suppose I can’t wrap my head around how people can look the other way in regards to abortion. It ends a life. Period. How is an innocent life being ended ever morally acceptable? The same way it may or may not be “humane” to kill someone with cyanide?

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 4:30 PM

damn quotes tag screw up…argh…

And for the record, I applaud Tanya’s post. She has no obligation to state any opinion on abortion, I agree. I am not arguing against/for/with Tanya.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 4:32 PM

Tanya did say she doesn’t have a “strong” opinion about abortion. It’s hard for me to understand not having a strong opinion on this, but I don’t have to understand it to accept that she is probably speaking the truth. She knows her own mind; we don’t.

SKYFOX on May 1, 2009 at 4:41 PM

Umm…Is it ever “humane” to kill someone by any means?

Depends on your stance on capital punishment. Many would argue lethal inject is a humane way to kill someone.

Or what about animals? Many people argue about the humane way to kill an animal, acknowledging that eating meat in and of itself is not immoral.

If you truly believe it’s inhumane to ever kill someone, then surely you don’t support either of the above two.

How is an innocent life being ended ever morally acceptable?

Again, you’re very black and white on this issue. That’s fine, but horrible if you actually want to debate someone.

What about forcing a woman to carry a child, thus imprisoning her body? Yes, she chose to do the thing that made her pregnant, but she still has to carry the child for nine full months. If we truly believe the life needs to be saved (which I do, by the way, I’m merely explaining other arguments), how far are we willing to go? Should it be illegal for the woman to drink, smoke or consume of poor diet?

If you argue that the baby is a life, doesn’t it deserve a healthy environment?

And at what point is it life? As soon as the egg and sperm meet? The Bible discusses blood, something that isn’t present until a little further along in the pregnancy. The law is currently unclear.

Pro-lifers tend to argue that it’s best to err on the side of caution, but that then takes freedom away from the woman. If it is life at conception, can she be charged if she takes her birth control and forces a miscarriage even if she didn’t know she was pregnant?

Wouldn’t that be involuntary manslaughter?

But then even most pro-lifers don’t want to treat the woman like a murderer.

Can you really not see how this is a complicated issue someone might not want to comment on? Have you not had these debates yourself here a large number of times?

I appreciate your stance, as I share it, but that doesn’t mean I lost empathy for those who have a different one or for those still on the fence. And none of that is justification for insulting her.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 4:45 PM

When I read Ms. Glendon’s letter I stood up and cheered.. I am sick and tired of people saying “I repudiate you” and then going out for lunch. It is time to stand up for our core principles at all times, in all things regardless of the consequences… I am so mad at Senator Brownbeck to claim to be a pro life man and yet to vote for Kathleen Sebilius for HHS secty. I hope that every graduate at Notre Dame stands up for their beliefs by standing up and walking out on the President of the US when he rises to speak.. very quietly without fanfare, stand up and walk out. After all, will he say anything that is worth hearing?

kringeesmom on May 1, 2009 at 4:53 PM

Depends on your stance on capital punishment. Many would argue lethal inject is a humane way to kill someone.

OK, let me clarify…acceptable to kill someone who has not been convicted of a violent felony. And no, I am not a fan of capital punishment btw.

Here’s the thing…life IS a black and white issue. Either you are alive, or you are dead. That is the truth of it. I believe that every person should be given a chance to have a life. Even if it is inconvenient to a woman for 9 months.

I have plenty of sympathy for a woman who does not want to be pregnant. That doesn’t mean that the living being inside of her deserves to die. If that makes me seem heartless because apparently I just can’t see what they’re going through, then so be it.

And again…I did not call Tanya out for not stating her stance on abortion. No she does not have to share her opinion if she has one about it at all. I did not insult her. You had every right to call that person out for the insult. I just had an issue with your comparison.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:03 PM

I just had an issue with your comparison.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:03 PM

Only because you deny the complexity of the issue. Not everyone does so.

Calculus is easier than understanding life, when it begins, when it should be protected by law and what we should do to those who break that law.

If anything, I should have picked something harder.

You mentioned capital punishment, but do you eat meat or use animal products? Is that not also life?

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 5:10 PM

You mentioned capital punishment, but do you eat meat or use animal products? Is that not also life?

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 5:10 PM

Yes. Yes I do. An animal life does not equal a human life.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Yes. Yes I do. An animal life does not equal a human life.

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Never said it did. I’m not asking you to allow your life to be taken in place of an animals. I’m merely asking if you value animal life at all. You’re the one who was arguing that abortion “ends a life,” as though that argument had meaning in and of itself. Well, so do slaughter houses.

I’m not calling you a hypocrite. I’m only pointing out that life is not black and white, at least you don’t seem to believe it is.

And we haven’t even gotten into the issues of the health of the mother (and I’m not just talking about her life but her health). We’re also not talking about babies born with severe disabilities, the kind we don’t even have treatment for, like harlequin disease. The skin of these babies is so hardened that it cracks and turns their body into a shell, normally suffocating the child within hours (sometimes days) so of its life.

The link is of fairly graphic pictures. You may not want to see them if you’re unfamiliar with the disease.

My personal opinion is that I’d rather have the child anyway and trust God, but I understand why a mother might choose to save her child from that certain, painful death.

But that’s the point. There are many issues here. I know exactly where I stand, but that doesn’t mean this issue isn’t complex that some people do not.

Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 5:28 PM

Never said it did. I’m not asking you to allow your life to be taken in place of an animals. I’m merely asking if you value animal life at all. You’re the one who was arguing that abortion “ends a life,” as though that argument had meaning in and of itself. Well, so do slaughter houses.
Esthier on May 1, 2009 at 5:28 PM

I guess I’m never explicit enough. Ends a HUMAN life.

Yes, I value life. I don’t think animals should be randomly killed. They should be killed if there is a purpose…you know feeding and clothing HUMAN beings being a pretty darn good one.

If you get down to that kind of value of animal life, you better get out into the wilderness and stop all that animal-on-animal violence. I’m pretty sure a bear just killed a deer somewhere. That’s called the food chain. Luckily, us humans are at the top of it.

We can get into all the weird, rare conditions that may endanger a mother’s health that pro-choice people always like to bring up, but I will not do that. The fact is that the vast majority of abortions are done by perfectly healthy women with perfectly viable fetuses. We all know that and to pretend otherwise is disingenuous.

Unfortunately I have to go start my weekend. So have a good one. :-)

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:37 PM

What’s to know?

Unless you’re 12 years old?

OK, maybe she doesn’t have access to a dictionary.

Oh, wait. This is the internet, isn’t it? Yeah, I’m pretty sure it is.

Jaynie59 on May 1, 2009 at 3:48 PM

Wow. I just thought Ambassador Glendon’s actions and dignity were far more important than my boring layman’s opinion.

Luckily, we have you to hijack the thread and make it all about you — instead of her — since I couldn’t be bothered. What would we have done without you?

Tanya on May 1, 2009 at 8:06 PM

And thanks for the defense, Esthier. :)

We use a non-standard browser at work, and I can’t read the comments (even when I have time). After about three, they’re all squashed up off the left side of the page.

Tanya on May 1, 2009 at 8:26 PM

And thanks for the defense, Esthier. :)

Tanya on May 1, 2009 at 8:26 PM

Not that you needed it. I just didn’t understand why people would attack you that way.

So have a good one. :-)

spaninq on May 1, 2009 at 5:37 PM

I did. Thank you. I’m not even sure we had any serious disagreement. I just think the issue is complex, and that seems to be why you didn’t like my analogy.

Esthier on May 4, 2009 at 4:06 PM