Sunday, December 11th, 2016

Understanding Notre Dame’s mission better than Notre Dame

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At the same Notre Dame University commencement ceremony where President Barack Obama is expected to speak, Mary Ann Glendon was to receive the Laetare Medal, an annual award given in recognition of outstanding service to the Roman Catholic church.

Because of the invitation to President Obama, the granting of an honorary degree, and the subsequent controversy, Glendon has decided not to accept the Laetare Medal. (Ht: Dad29)

In her letter to Fr. Jenkins of Notre Dame, she wrote:

Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:

• “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.”
• “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.”

A commencement, however, is supposed to be a joyous day for the graduates and their families. It 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.

Finally, with recent news reports that other Catholic schools are similarly choosing to disregard the bishops’ guidelines, I am concerned that Notre Dame’s example could have an unfortunate ripple effect.

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.

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