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April 28, 2009

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Catholic Democrats Deplores
Ambassador Glendon's Undiplomatic Withdrawal from Notre Dame Commencement

Decision Not in Step with Majority of Catholics
Who Support the President's Social Justice Policies
Boston, MA - Catholic Democrats is expressing its disappointment in the decision by Ambassador Mary Ann Glendon to withdraw her acceptance of the prestigious Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame.  Ambassador Glendon sent a letter to Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, saying that she had reconsidered her acceptance because of the university's decision to honor the President of the United States.

Ambassador Glendon, a professor at Harvard Law School and a listed advisor to the Right wing Catholic League, said that she could not accept the award because she did not want to engage with the university on the "very serious problems raised by Notre Dame's decision ... to honor a prominent and uncompromising opponent of the Church's position on issues involving fundamental principles of justice."

"It is unfortunate that Professor Glendon would repeat the Republican talking points to justify her decision," said Dr. Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats.  "Like many conservative critics, she conveniently sidesteps any acknowledgement of President Obama's pledge to reduce the number of abortions.  Ambassador Glendon's statement knowingly ignores the President's leadership in moving the nation past the deep wounds of racial prejudice and advancing a spectrum of social and economic justice issues at the heart of our faith - including a new focus on strategies to reduce abortion."

President Obama is the first president to run for office on a platform that promotes strategies to reduce the number of abortions in our country.  Last week, Cardinal Rigali, chair of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) praised the re-introduction of the "Pregnant Women's Support Act" saying that it  "offers an authentic common ground, an approach that people can embrace regardless of their position on other issues."

Catholic Democrats has launched an online statement of support for the University of Notre Dame and its president, as well as in defense of Catholic education.  The statement has been signed by thousands of Catholics from across the country.  Catholic Democrats believes that the national debate on this controversy epitomizes the divisiveness in our Church and in the public square and is calling on all Catholics to engage in respectful dialogue on all the moral issues of our time.

"While we are disappointed in Ambassador Glendon's decision, we know that the majority of Catholics in the United States support the President because they feel he represents Catholic values across the spectrum of moral issues," said Steve Krueger, national director of Catholic Democrats.  "The Catholic Right is caught in a web of the political Right and is out of step with Church teaching on matters of political culture.  Even the Pope has honored political figures who are not in agreement with Church teaching such as President Sarkozy of France.  Their actions and rhetoric are exacting an undisclosed cost on the Church and society that does not serve the best interest of either."

About Catholic Democrats
Catholic Democrats is an association of state based groups representing a Catholic voice within the Democratic Party, and advancing a public understanding of the rich tradition of Catholic Social Teaching and its potential to help solve the broad range of problems confronting all Americans. For more information about Catholic Democrats please go to