By Kathleen Gilbert

SOUTH BEND, Indiana, April 30, 2009 ( – University of Notre Dame president Fr. John Jenkins has announced that federal Judge John T. Noonan, a former recipient of Notre Dame’s Laetare award, has accepted an invitation to speak in place of former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican Mary Ann Glendon at this year’s commencement ceremony. Glendon recently turned down an invitation to speak and receive the Laetare award in protest against the school’s honoring President Obama at the same ceremony.

After Glendon announced her decision, Fr. Jenkins issued a release saying that the university intended to give the Laetare award to another recipient. However, the university has now abandoned that plan, and has instead inserted Noonan into the program simply as a speaker.

“In thinking about who could bring a compelling voice, a passion for dialogue, great intellectual stature, and a deep commitment to Catholic values to the speaking role of the Laetare Medalist – especially in these unusual circumstances – it quickly became clear that an ideal choice is Judge Noonan,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame.

“Since Judge Noonan is a previous winner of the Laetare Medal, we have decided, upon reflection, to not award the medal this year,” Jenkins said.  Noonan received the Laetare medal from the University, where he once taught and now serves on the Center for Ethics and Culture board of advisors, in 1984.

Mary Ann Glendon announced this past Monday that she had decided to decline the Laetare medal and boycott the May 17 ceremony, where President Obama will be giving the commencement address and receiving an honorary law degree. 

The former ambassador said she objected to the school’s disobedience to U.S. bishops’ policy, which forbids the honoring of pro-abortion politicians at Catholic institutions.  In a letter addressed to Father Jenkins, Glendon also said that she objected to “talking points” issued to Notre Dame trustees that appeared to suggest that her speech “would somehow balance” Obama’s presence.

Glendon joined 57 U.S. bishops and over 340,000 Catholics who have protested Obama’s honor at the school.

See related coverage:

UPDATED: Mary Ann Glendon Refuses Notre Dame Honor over Obama Invitation – White House, Fr. Jenkins Respond


Commenting Guidelines
LifeSiteNews welcomes thoughtful, respectful comments that add useful information or insights. Demeaning, hostile or propagandistic comments, and streams not related to the storyline, will be removed.

LSN commenting is not for frequent personal blogging, on-going debates or theological or other disputes between commenters.

Multiple comments from one person under a story are discouraged (suggested maximum of three). Capitalized sentences or comments will be removed (Internet shouting).

LifeSiteNews gives priority to pro-life, pro-family commenters and reserves the right to edit or remove comments.

Comments under LifeSiteNews stories do not necessarily represent the views of LifeSiteNews.