By John Connolly

Mary Ann Glendon WASHINGTON, DC, November 9, 2007 ( – President George Bush’s nomination Monday of Mary Ann Glendon to be U.S. ambassador to the Vatican has been criticized as reactionary and subversive by US abortion and homosexual advocates. Glendon is a high profile and pro-life member the president’s bioethics council. 

  Glendon, 69, is known at Harvard for her advocacy of Catholic teachings on a number of issues, including abortion and same-sex “marriage.” She will succeed Francis Rooney, who served as envoy to the Vatican for the past two years. Glendon’s appointment is for a five year term, and requires Senate confirmation.

  Father Richard John Neuhaus, on the influential First Things website, today calls the selection of Glendon “a brilliant choice”. He also notes a downside to her appointment in that “Prof. Glendon will be resigning from the editorial board of First Things.”

  Glendon was a member of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics, advising the president on moral and ethical issues related to technological developments in bioethics. She has frequently criticized radical feminism and defended the Church’s position on life issues.

“The challenge of the church is to keep abreast of changes, but not dumb down its doctrine to the spirit of the age,” she said in an earlier interview with the AP. “Contrary to popular stereotype, John Paul II has done a great deal to put women in many responsible positions.”

  In 1994, Pope John Paul II appointed Glendon to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. In 2004, Glendon became the highest ranking female advisor to the Church when she was named president of the Academy. She also headed the delegation of the Holy See to the international 1995 Beijing Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations, where she came under fire for her uncompromising statements against contraception.

  US abortion and homosexual advocates have criticized Glendon’s nomination. Jon O’Brien, president of the pro-abortion organization Catholics For a Free Choice, stated, “Dr. Glendon’s stance on many matters of importance is not representative of Americans’ views on these issues, let alone those of American Catholics”.  He added, “Her appointment comes at a time when the global community needs more critics of the Vatican’s policies on sexual and reproductive rights.”

  Fr. Neuhaus reports that the Boston Globe is also not happy about Glendon’s appointment. He quotes the Globe, “Glendon, 69, is an antiabortion scholar and an opponent of gay marriage who has written about the effects of divorce and increased litigation on society. Her 1987 book, “Abortion and Divorce in Western Law,” was critical of the Supreme Court’s 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion.”

  The Globe also reports that Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a University of Notre Dame theologian and leading US dissident Catholic is not happy about the Glendon appointment. McBrien told the Globe, “She has also been an outspoken critic of feminism, tending to write it off as a relic of the 1970s, all of which endears her to conservative Catholics and makes her an ideal choice for President Bush.”

  Cardinal Sean O’Malley, however, praised Glendon in an interview with the Boston Globe. “Dr. Glendon’s career is marked with numerous achievements in law, education, and international affairs that provide her exemplary credentials for this post,” he said.

  In her capacity as a legal specialist in the field of bioethics, Glendon has been a leader in the Catholic opposition to same-sex “marriage,” and has acted as an advisor to Governor Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.