Mary Ann Glendon was the 2009 recipient of Notre Dame's highest honor, the Laetare Medal, which is awarded each year during Commencement. Receiving this honor put her on deck to speak alongside President Obama at Notre Dame's Commencement in May. In the last weeks, amid the firestorm following the selection of Obama as Notre Dame's Commencement speaker and as recipient of an honorary degree, Notre Dame officials have been using Mary Ann Glendon's balancing presence at Commencement to justify giving President Obama this platform and honor.
This morning, in a letter to Notre Dame's president Fr. John Jenkins, Dr. Glendon said no thank you to the whole operation. She has lain down this monumental professional achievement to remain true to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Church, and to assure American Catholics that the buck stops somewhere. This is the magnanimity that made her worthy of the Laetare Medal in the first place. Dr. Glendon emanates beauty, dignity and grace, and she is one of the greatest legal minds of our day. How shameful for Notre Dame to lose her among its historic list of Laetare Medal recipients precisely because it has chosen secular approval over faithfulness to the Church.
The text of Dr. Glendon's letter to Fr. Jenkins is available at First Things.