Glendon fails her values, her Church

Monday, May 04
Mary Ann Glendon's decision to reject Notre Dame's Laetare Medal for distinguished service to the Catholic community is more than disappointing for those of us who have admired her academic work and service as a Catholic lay leader.

In her letter to Notre Dame Glendon states that the university, by inviting Obama, has acted "in disregard of the settled position of the U.S. bishops." That position says that no honors should be given to anyone "who acts in defiance of our fundamental moral principles." In her judgment, and in the judgment of anti-abortion extremists and, regrettably, many otherwise responsible bishops, President Obama is such a person. Glendon leaves no doubt for she also calls President Obama "a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."

These are remarkably disrespectful judgments on the president's actions and character, insulting as well to we Catholics who voted for him and continue to respond to his calls for unity and responsibility.

Even on abortion the president has undercut pro-choice extremists by consistently stating that "no one is pro-abortion" and "abortion is always a moral question." He emphasizes the autonomy of women as responsible moral agents who have to wrestle with such decisions. He has clearly backed away from his earlier, ill-considered support for legislation that would eliminate state legal limits to abortion. Instead he has taken the moral debate seriously and he consistently searches for common ground in actions that will address the causes and reduce the frequency of abortion.

Those promising legislative initiatives often fail to win the support of all or nothing anti-abortion extremists, and most bishops, because they include support for contraceptive services. Birth control, accepted by Catholics as by other Americans, must be dropped as the price of official Catholic support for abortion reduction legislation.

Mary Ann Glendon has been a thoughtful Catholic supporter of life, of women, and of justice. Unfortunately, in the judgment of this Catholic, and Notre Dame alumnus, who grew up in the Berkshires at about the same time she did, she has not served these values, or our Church, well by her decision to turn her back on Notre Dame, on the Laetare Medal, and on our president.

Jefferson, Ma.

The writer is a summer resident of Richmond.


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