I’ll be over my blog-father Ed Morrissey’s place at 3PM to discuss Mary Ann Glendon’s withdrawal from Notre Dame’s Commencement.
Read her letter to Fr. Jenkins here. Magnificent and classy.
First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. 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. This, as you must know, was in disregard of the U.S. bishops’ express request of 2004 that Catholic institutions “should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles” and that such persons “should not be given awards, honors 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.
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:
A commencement…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.
You’ll want to read it all.
I completely understand why she has withdrawn; to suggest that the very brief speech she would have given could sufficiently balance the huge presence of President Obama on the dais, or answer his 100%-NARAL-approved anti-life positions is ludicrous. Glendon is right in not allowing herself to be so used by Notre Dame.
But part of me wishes Glendon had not pulled back. I had a hope -call me a whimsical dreamer- that somehow the Holy Spirit would use the event, and the shared dais, to give us a real contrast between the Culture of Life and the Culture of Death. And I had also hoped that upon meeting Glendon, President Obama would go all “post-partisan” like he said he would and realize she was a terrific Ambassador to the Vatican and send her back there.
Anyhow, if you can tune in to Ed’s broadcast at 3. I have never done live radio before, so we’ll see how badly I can embarrass myself without the safety-net of an editor.
Btw, last night’s episode of In the Arena featured George Weigel, and we did touch briefly on the Notre Dame story (I had nothing useful to say, I was busy being a dud firecracker compared to Weigel’s roman candle of a brain) – that should be digitized and up in a few days. In the Arena also talked about the Obama/Notre Dame story a few weeks ago, and you can watch that here.