Mary Ann Glendon

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Mary Ann Glendon
Mary Ann Glendon ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to the Holy See
In office
February 29, 2008 – January 20, 2009
PresidentGeorge W. Bush
Preceded byFrancis Rooney
Succeeded byMiguel Díaz
Personal details
Born (1938-10-07) October 7, 1938 (age 82)
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Political partyIndependent
Alma materUniversity of Chicago

Mary Ann Glendon (born October 7, 1938) is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a former United States Ambassador to the Holy See. She teaches and writes on bioethics, comparative constitutional law, property, and human rights in international law. She is anti-abortion and "writes forcefully against the expansion of abortion rights."[1]

Early life[edit]

Glendon was raised in Dalton, Massachusetts. Her father, Martin Glendon, an Irish-Catholic Democrat, was a reporter for the Berkshire Eagle and also chaired the local board of selectmen.[2]


President George W. Bush and Laura Bush stand with 2005 National Humanities Medal recipient Mary Ann Glendon.

Glendon received her Bachelor of Arts, Juris Doctor, and Master of Comparative Law from the University of Chicago.[3]

Glendon practiced law in Chicago from 1963 to 1968. She became a professor at Boston College Law School in 1968 and began teaching at Harvard Law School in 1987.[4]

In 1995, she was the Vatican representative to the international 1995 Beijing Conference on Women sponsored by the United Nations, where she contested the use of condoms for the prevention of HIV and AIDS. At the time, Pope John Paul II issued a statement that "The Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programs."[5]

On November 4, 2002, in reference to the Boston Globe's Pulitzer Prize nomination for its coverage of sexual abuse by Catholic priests, Glendon told a conference of Catholics that "if fairness and accuracy have anything to do with it, awarding the Pulitzer Prize to the Boston Globe would be like giving the Nobel Peace Prize to Osama bin Laden."[6] In 2003 the Globe was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for its coverage of the church scandals.[7]

Glendon was appointed by President Bush to the President's Council on Bioethics. Her nomination as United States Ambassador to the Holy See was announced on November 5, 2007.[8] The U.S. Senate voted to confirm her on December 19, 2007.[9] She presented her Letters of Credence to Pope Benedict XVI on February 29, 2008, and resigned her office effective January 19, 2009.[10]

On June 26, 2013 Pope Francis named Glendon a member of the Pontifical Commission of inquiry for the Institute for Works of Religion (IOR), which is also known as the Vatican Bank.[11] Glendon, two cardinals, a bishop, and a monsignor are responsible for preparing an investigative report on the Vatican Bank.[12][13] In July 2014 she was appointed to be a member of the board of the IOR.[14] Glendon resigned from the board in February 2018 saying that she wanted to devote more time to other Catholic causes.[15]

Glendon serves on the board of directors for First Things, an ecumenical conservative journal that encourages a religiously informed philosophy for the ordering of society.[16]

On October 1, 2017, it was announced that Glendon would be the 2018 recipient of the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture's Evangelium Vitae Medal.[17]


During the 1960 presidential election, the first in which Glendon could vote, she cast her ballot for John F. Kennedy. For most of her early life she was a Democrat.[2]

Glendon supported Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.[18] She also supported Romney's campaign in the 2008 presidential election.[1]

Glendon was a mentor of Mike Pompeo, the former United States Secretary of State, when Pompeo was at Harvard Law School.[19]

Pompeo appointed Glendon as Chair of the newly-formed State Department's Commission on Unalienable Rights in July 2019 to re-examine the role of human rights in U.S. foreign policy.[20]

Notre Dame controversy[edit]

Glendon was selected by the University of Notre Dame as the 2009 recipient of the school's Laetare Medal but declined the award due to the university's decision to host Barack Obama as its commencement speaker and bestow upon him an honorary degree, which was seen as controversial by some.[21][22] In light of Obama's pro-choice policies, Glendon considered Notre Dame's decision to be in violation of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2004 pronouncement that Catholic institutions should not give "awards, honors, or platforms" to "those who act in defiance of [Catholic] fundamental moral principles."[23] Glendon also felt that the university was implicitly trying to use her acceptance speech to give the appearance of balance to the event and expressed concern about the "ripple effect" Notre Dame's disregard of the USCCB pronouncement is having on the nation's other Catholic schools.[23]

She received an award from the National Right to Life Committee at its Pro-Life Awards Dinner in October.[24]

Personal life[edit]

In 1964 Glendon contracted a civil marriage with an attorney and settled in Chicago. They divorced in 1966. In 1970 she married Edward R. Lev, a labor lawyer.[2] Glendon and Lev remained together until Lev's death in 2013.[25] Glendon has three daughters.[2]


  • What is clearly 'old-fashioned' today is the old feminism of the 1970s – with its negative attitudes toward men, marriage and motherhood, and its rigid party line on abortion.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bazelon, Emily (November 26, 2007) On the Advice of Counsel, Slate
  2. ^ a b c d Lehr, Dick (December 11, 1996). "Mary Ann Glendon:Writing her own party line". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  3. ^ "Mary Ann Glendon, '61: High-Level Diplomacy", The Record, Fall 2008, archived from the original on April 21, 2014, retrieved April 20, 2014
  4. ^ "Mary Ann Glendon". National Endowment for the Humanities. 2005. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  5. ^ Holy See's Final Statement at Women's Conference in Beijing. Fourth World Conference on Women. Beijing. September 15, 1995. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  6. ^ France, David (2004). Our Fathers: The Secret Life Of The Catholic Church In An Age Of Scandal. New York: Random House: Broadway Books. p. 537. ISBN 9780767914062. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  7. ^ "Washington Post and Los Angeles Times Each Win Three Pulitzer Prizes". New York Times. April 8, 2003. Retrieved March 1, 2016.
  8. ^ "Bush picks anti-abortion Harvard professor to be Vatican ambassador". International Herald Tribune. Associated Press. November 5, 2007. Retrieved November 6, 2007.
  9. ^ Senate confirms Mary Ann Glendon as U.S. ambassador to Vatican Catholic News Service
  10. ^ Thavis, John (December 5, 2008). "Point of pride: Glendon glad to have served as Vatican ambassador". Catholic News Service. Archived from the original on October 5, 2009. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  11. ^ Pope sets up Pontifical Commission to study IOR reform. Vatican Radio (radio). Rome. June 26, 2013. 13 minutes in.
  12. ^ Pullella, Philip (June 26, 2013). "UPDATE 3-In bold move, Pope names commission to reform Vatican bank". Reuters.
  13. ^ "Pope Francis sets up commission to review Vatican bank". BBC News. June 26, 2013.
  14. ^ "New Economic Framework for the Holy See". Vatican Information Service. July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014.
  15. ^ Catholic News Agency, 16 February 2018
  16. ^ "Masthead". First Things. 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  17. ^ Dame, Marketing Communications: Web // University of Notre. "Mary Ann Glendon to receive 2018 Evangelium Vitae Medal". Notre Dame News. Retrieved August 15, 2019.
  18. ^ Bauman, Michelle (February 10, 2012). "Mary Ann Glendon defends Romney on religious freedom". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  19. ^ Harris, Gardiner (April 11, 2018). "Pompeo Vows to Embrace Diplomacy, but Pledges Tougher Line on Russia". The New York Times. Retrieved April 12, 2018.
  20. ^ C-span
  21. ^ Paulson, Michael (March 21, 2009). "Notre Dame criticized over Obama invite". The Boston Globe. Retrieved June 1, 2009.
  22. ^ "Ex-Vatican Ambassador Declines Medal at Notre Dame Commencement, Citing Obama". Fox News. April 27, 2009. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
  23. ^ a b Glendon, Mary Ann (April 27, 2009). "Declining Notre Dame: A Letter from Mary Ann Glendon". First Things. Retrieved May 30, 2009.
  24. ^ Ertelt, Steven (May 5, 2009). "Pro-Life Harvard Prof Who Rejected Notre Dame Honor Will Get National Award". Life News. Retrieved April 20, 2014.
  25. ^ "Edward R. Lev". The Boston Globe. October 6, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2014.
  26. ^ Steven Ertelt, "President Bush Nominates Pro-Life Law Professor as Vatican Ambassador", Life News, November 5, 2007

External links[edit]

Diplomatic posts
Preceded by
Francis Rooney
United States Ambassador to the Holy See
Succeeded by
Miguel Díaz