Glendon’s daughter: Don’t mess with Mom

posted by David Gibson

Liz Lev.jpgOver at PoliticsDaily.com, Mary Ann Glendon’s daughter, Liz Lev (at right), has penned a tart defense of her mother’s decision to decline the Laetare Medal from Notre Dame–the highest honor given an American Catholic–because she would share the stage with Barack Obama and thereby become “a warm-up act for a grotesque twist on a reality show…”

Lev, who is a PoliticsDaily contributor (and an art historian in Rome who writes for conservative outlets like Zenit.org and “Inside the Vatican” magazine), wrote her piece in response to a PoliticsDaily column by Kaitlynn Reily, who is about to graduate from Notre Dame. Reily’s column seemed fairly mild to me, but then again she wasn’t writing about my mother. This seems to be the section that irked Liz Lev most:

“Glendon, like many others who have spoken out against the Obama invitation, opposes Obama’s pro-choice stances and decisions. But Glendon has been trained in diplomacy. Shouldn’t being in the same place and engaging someone of an opposing view be right up her alley? Wouldn’t the better decision be to use her platform — or at least her proximity — to persuade Obama to change his views? Her diplomatic style seems to be less suited for U.S.-Vatican relations and more for U.S.-Cuba relations.” 

Lev was not amused, and contrasted what she called Reily’s “facile” and “reductive” take with her mother’s prayerful, deliberate decision not to appear with a president who she says “has worked tirelessly to undermine Professor Glendon’s lifetime of work”:

Glendon.jpg“Your notion that her ‘training in diplomacy’ might somehow ease this situation does not take into account that she has a five-minute acceptance speech and he will have a lengthy commencement speech. There is no ‘engaging’ here. Diplomacy generally teaches that if you have a rapier and your opponent has a missile launcher, try not to engage.”

“That Professor Glendon ‘did not like that Notre Dame was claiming her speech would serve to balance the event’ is again facile and simplistic. What is there to like in being the deflector screen for inviting a profoundly divisive figure to give the commencement speech? What is likeable about a Catholic University named for the most important woman in Christianity exploiting a woman who has already dedicated her life to protecting the Church’s teaching by turning her into a warm-up act for a grotesque twist on a reality show?”
“Finally, after 50 Catholic bishops condemned the university for its direct defiance in honoring a man in open conflict with the Church’s teaching, it is right that Professor Glendon let her silence speak louder than her five-minute allotment of words would have.”
That last bit I’m not so sure about, but then again, we’re not talking about my mother. My other quibbles: It was also the protesting bishops, starting with Bishop D’Arcy of South Bend, who publicly pressured Glendon to accept and be their voice (because they refused to go) in reaction to Obama. Moreover, 50 bishops (by Lev’s count) have protested the Obama invitation to one extent or another. But there are more than 285 bishops in the U.S. What about the others? Also, there are other issues besides those raised by one column. But I’m sure we’ll hear more. And more. And more.

Comments read comments(18)
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RP Burke

posted April 29, 2009 at 10:30 am

I wonder if this comment, which I posted on Amy Welborn’s weblog, will get a different set of comments from the readers of this one:
To grasp, as Glendon is doing here, for the moral high ground in opposition to a pro-abortion-rights president even as she has most recently been the public representative — to the Vatican, no less! — of an administration that had, as unapologetic policy, such intrinsic evils as torture: well, it is more ironic than I could ever have imagined.

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Ed Barrington

posted April 29, 2009 at 10:36 am

Glendon acted with principle even when others, such as Fr. Jenkins, have not. Jenkins got his “President” at ND – who cares if he is a radical pro-abortion supporter; better to have an Obama endorsement than the US Bishops Conference. Isn’t Obama more important (at least for the next few years – then he will be just a bad memory)?
It should be no surprise if the majority of Bishops have remained silent – courage is an excellence and excellence is rare.
Glendon is rare. Bravo Amb. Glendon.

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Ed Barrington

posted April 29, 2009 at 10:44 am

PS. RP Burke. Torture is not an “intrinsic evil.” I personally oppose its use in all cimcumstances, but to inflict suffering on a murderer to prevent imminent mass murder of others is permitted morally under certain conditions and within limits. That does not defend Bush and his cronies – it is merely a fact.
But to slaughter innocent babies in the womb is always intrinsically evil.
To attempt to equate the slaughter of something like 50 million innocent human lives in the abortion holocaust in the US to the torture – even immoral torture – of a few dozen people, is obviously motivated by something other than reason. Perhaps guilt? Certainly ignorance.

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posted April 29, 2009 at 11:23 am

Ed apparently can’t distinguish between the moral culpability for acts one takes oneself (e.g. the Bush Administration’s promotion of torture) and moral culpability for acts one does not punish others for taking (e.g. Obama’s desire to keep abortion safe and legal). My primary moral responsibility is to act rightly myself, not to police others. If others mis-use their liberty in order to have abortions, the guilt is mostly theirs; if a president mis-uses his power to torture, the guilt is his. I suppose Ed also cannot distinguish between the level of moral culpability of the Nazis who actually ran the death camps, and that of the rest of world that allow them to do so.

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Dr. Jonson

posted April 29, 2009 at 11:29 am

Thank God, Glendon is no longer an Ambassador to anywhere. She is about as closed minded as possible. Considering all the issues with the Holy See: sexual abuse of children and money laundering lawsuits against the Vatican in the US and the Pope’s anti family planning agenda in an increasingly overpopulated world, arch conservatives like Glendoin have no place in the 21st century and certainly not sharing the podium with a progressive President. Glendon apparently owes alliegence to the Vatican and not the US and that is scary!

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posted April 29, 2009 at 11:31 am

Ed’s attempts to quantify by the number of lives affected also poses some interesting questions. Perhaps he doesn’t know this, but no single person has “slaughtered” all of the fetuses that have died in abortions. The immediate responsibility is highly diffused across millions of women and tens of thousands of medical practitioners.
For whatever reason (mostly PR, I suspect), those who rail against abortion prefer to target someone with diffuse responsibility like Obama, rather than aiming their attacks at the women who choose abortions. Obama could be president for life and hold the same position without there ever being another abortion so long as all of these women refuse to have abortions. The reverse is not true; even when the government prohibits abortions, women still seek them out.
I wonder when folks like Ed will direct their fire on the women who are choosing abortions instead of the politicians who leave that option available to them. Do they just think these women are too stupid or childlike to be held morally responsible?

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Thomas Smith

posted April 29, 2009 at 11:43 am

Prof. Glendon has again proven a terrific witness to the Catholic faith. The good fathers who run the University of Notre Dame should consider putting their collective tail between their legs, admit their error, and offer the award to Prof. Glendon in 2010 for setting such a wonderful example.

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posted April 29, 2009 at 12:27 pm

Weird that she refers to her own mother as “Professor Glendon.” I mean, come on…it’s “Ambassador Glendon.” Get with the program kiddo.

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ed gleason

posted April 29, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Glendon trained in law, living in Boston… made not a peep about the priest abuse and cover-up when Cardinal Law resigned.. She was the only Boston Catholic woman outside of those in rest homes who had no opinion.. her daughter writes for the Legionaries of Christ????Zenit?

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Nancy Danielson

posted April 29, 2009 at 2:02 pm

Frank Clyburn

posted April 29, 2009 at 6:44 pm

Good for Liz….it’s good to be right and have a mother who is willing to not prostitute her beliefs!

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posted April 29, 2009 at 7:41 pm

I agree: good for Liz, up until about the last three paragraphs.
I suspect the pressure from the Right contributed to the spoilage here. Professor (not weird, but accurate) Glendon was in a no-win situation. If she doesn’t talk about abortion, she’ll join Doug Kmiec and Sam Brownback in the penalty box. If she does, the president will likely keep it presidential and she’ll look like a clod for spoiling the graduation festivities. No wonder she bowed out: Deal Hudson and Clan Karl Rove set her up.
One more nail, Ed: abortion can be excusable under conditions as contrived as you present for torture.

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posted April 29, 2009 at 10:21 pm

I agree with Ed Gleason. How anyone could care what the bishops and Cardinals say when they are still in the midst of the sexual scandal and have proven themselves liars. Who are they to tell us Catholics what to do? They are also trying to run back to the 1800′s when no one was allowed to question them and why they said. As Andrew Greeley puts it, “the peasants have been educated and there is no going back.” If her daughter does work for the Legionnaires that is very creepy

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Roland Newark

posted April 30, 2009 at 7:20 am

The Laetare now means nothing and Jenkins will be fired tomorrow.

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Your Name

posted April 30, 2009 at 2:44 pm

Todd: voluntary abortion is intrinsically evil. No possible set of circumstances can ever justify the deliberate murder of an innocvent human being.
Torture is difficult even of definition. For some simply incarceration is torture; for others cold, or heat, or lack of freedom or bad food. Bush far exceeded all of these, but the point is that torture is permissible, to certain difficult-to-define limits, and depending on the nature of the information desired. If it is about discovering where/when an atomic bomb is set to go off, then more is permitted than in the case of a shoplifter who is merely being interrogated (another form of discomfort – a very mild torture no one wants to endure).
I would add re Glendon: she had other options, I am inclined to believe she has principles. I think you are guilty of a little reductionism – all is politics. No, there are actually higher principles, which is also the source of your error re abortion.
In no case, however grave, can an innocent baby be deliberately murdered, morally. It is always a grave moral evil.
The pedophilia scandal, as bad as it surely is, is less than in the secular world of teachers, coaches, of psychologists, of Ministers, etc. Check the stats. It is exaggerated very unfairly as an anti-Catholic weapon, obviously. There will always be Judases, in every field.

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posted April 30, 2009 at 4:27 pm

anonymous, regarding, “No possible set of circumstances can ever justify the deliberate murder of an innocvent human being.”
Well, my daughter is twelve and suffers from a heart condition that, at her age, would certainly prevent her from carrying any unborn child to term alive. Heaven forbid, if she were raped, I would make an agonizing decision to abort my own grandchild, as nearly every Catholic pro-life parent would. Not a virtue to abort a child in such an instance, but as I said, “excusable” under such contrived conditions.
As a pacifist, I would tend to agree with you on the principle of killing as an absolute evil. Including killing in warfare, even in a justified war. I would simply refuse to kill.
As for your stance on torture, it is not excusable as a Catholic. You, I, and every Catholic is morally forbidden from harming another human being for personal ends, even if those ends are some contrivance of patriotism. You seem to advocate a notion that the ends justifies the means. And that is wholly at odds with Catholic moral teaching. Were I a conservative Catholic, I would brand you a heretic, deny you Communion, get you fired from your job, insult your dog and/or cat, and call you a meaniehead. Good thing I’m a liberal, as I can hope you’ll read Mark Shea and get convinced by one of your own.

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posted May 1, 2009 at 9:24 am

Joanne, how can you claim to be Catholic when you obviously don’t uphold Catholic teaching on abortion.

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Your Name

posted May 18, 2009 at 5:58 am

Thank you for the beautiful story of Lacy Dodd.

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