Dear Mary Ann,
I wanted to write to say how very much I appreciate your courageous stance in rejecting Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal. I can only imagine the pain it caused you to refuse such a prestigious honor from an institution that you undoubtedly love and one that is a premier American Catholic university. The Laetare Medal recognizes outstanding service to the Catholic Church; it is a most appropriate honor for your prestigious career in defending the most vulnerable among us, the unborn. The honor is so well-earned; you are a worthy recipient of the Laetare Medal. Yet you chose integrity and principle; you were unwilling to provide cover for a very controversial and unprincipled decision by Notre Dame’s administration.
As a former Vatican Ambassador, you were unwilling to be Notre Dame’s pawn to deflect the firestorm of criticism over their invitation to the most pro-abortion President in American history to be the 2009 commencement speaker and to receive an Honorary Doctorate. As one of the top authors on bioethics and human rights in the world and a highly respected law professor at Harvard University, you could have accepted your award and made your speech without getting involved in the controversy over whether it is appropriate for Notre Dame to flagrantly defy the foundational moral principles of the faith. Instead, you took a principled stance that said you would not stand by while a Catholic university honored a man whose openly stated intent and public record flies in the face of all that genuine believers understand to be Biblical Truth.
President Obama began his presidency by undermining the Judeo-Christian values that are the foundation of America. The following are just a few examples to prove the point. He began by reversing the Mexico City policy which means he authorized American taxpayer funding for abortions around the world. He pledged taxpayer money, $50 million, to the United Nations Population Fund whose purpose is to limit births, including support for China’s heartbreaking one-child policy. He supports increased funding for Planned Parenthood, an organization that routinely profits in the millions of dollars from being the nation’s largest abortion provider. He supports reversing the “conscience clause” protections that allow pro-life doctors and medical personnel to refuse to do abortions. He has put into place political appointees in pivotal positions that will promote his pro-abortion policies, including the newly confirmed Secretary for Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, whose record is extreme in terms of late-term abortions and providing even minimal oversight of abortion providers.
The backlash to your decision is predictable. Some people argue that you should have provided a counter-point to the President’s remarks by using that very public platform to present a compelling pro-life response after receiving the Laetare Medal. They misunderstand the importance of standing for principle. Some people argue that it is a good thing to have differing points of view at a public event. They don’t understand the importance of having people whose lives and decisions exemplify Christian principles and enhance the traditions of faith. Some people are accusing you of being judgmental and harsh; yet how could you stand there condoning the politicizing of a ceremonial event honoring graduates who are to go out to change the world for Christ and His Kingdom? Do the values and beliefs that they hold not matter? Is it not important to have people who stand for the ideals of our faith without compromise? Why is it harsh to politely decline to be a part of a “politically correct” event where a church institution is honoring someone with stated views and a public record that fundamentally conflict with the church’s moral principles?
Historically, we have honored those who at great sacrifice stand for truth and principle over compromise and hypocrisy. Today, I salute you for having the courage of your convictions and for standing for Truth.
Long ago, William Ellery Channing described your action: “The greatest [woman is she] who chooses the right with invincible resolution, who resists the sorest temptations from within and without, who bears the heaviest burdens cheerfully, who is calmest in storms and most fearless in menace and frowns, whose reliance on truth, on virtue, on God, is most unfaltering.”
Thank you for serving as an example for all that it does not serve Truth to participate in hypocrisy.
From one who is pleased to be called your friend,