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Furor Over Obama's Notre Dame Invite

By Phil Brennan   |  

When Notre Dame reacted to widespread criticism about its invitation to Barack Obama to speak at this year's commencement ceremonies, it issued "talking points" meant to take some of the heat off the university and its seemingly clueless president, Father John Jenkins.

According to Notre Dame the university's willingness to honor the nation's abortion supporter in chief was somehow balanced by featuring another speaker, Mary Ann Glendon, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and a professor at Harvard Law School.

She was to be awarded the institution's Laetare Medal, awarded annually since 1883, and described as the most prestigious award given by an American Catholic University in the country to a Catholic.

According to RightPundits.com the inscription on the Laetare Medal reads, “Magna est veritas et prevalebit,” which means “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.” The hypocrisy of such an award given in a year that Barack Obama speaks at the University was not lost on Glendon.

In addition to being president of the Catholic Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, appointed by John Paul II, Glendon was a member of the U.S. President’s Council on Bioethics, and is author of several books.

She is widely known as a brilliant outspoken anti-abortion feminist, a fiercely loyal Catholic, and not a woman to be trifled with.

Notre Dame wrote: “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.”

Bad mistake. You don't try to hide behind the skirts of the likes of Mary Ann Glendon to justify a lame-brained decision by an acclaimed Roman Catholic institution of higher learning to honor a man who avidly supports the murder of unborn human beings in their mother's wombs and expect to get away with it.

In responding to Jenkins Glendon wrote: "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:

  • "'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."

    One has to ask, Just what is wrong with the Rev. Jenkins? In recent years he has allowed the disgusting “Vagina Monologues” to be performed at Notre Dame, for example. It seems as if just about anything goes at Notre Dame these days.

    In those instances he got away with defying the Church he serves. This time, thanks to Dr. Glendon, he didn't.

    As I said, Don't fool with Mary Ann Glendon.

    Phil Brennan writes for Newsmax.com. He is editor and publisher of Wednesday on the Web (www.pvbr.com) and was Washington columnist (Cato) for National Review magazine in the 1960s. He is a trustee of the Lincoln Heritage Institute and a member of the Association for Intelligence Officers. He can be reached at pvb@pvbr.com.

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