Mary Ann Glendon

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Mary Ann Glendon
Mary Ann Glendon ambassador.jpg
United States Ambassador to Holy See
In office
February 2008 – January 20, 2009
President George W. Bush
Pope Benedict XVI
Preceded by Francis Rooney
Succeeded by Miguel H. Díaz
Personal details
Born (1938-10-07) October 7, 1938 (age 77)
Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.
Occupation Diplomat, Professor
Religion Roman Catholic

Mary Ann Glendon, J.D., LL.M. (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 (February 2008 – January 2009). She teaches and writes on bioethics, comparative constitutional law, property, and human rights in international law. She is pro-life 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]

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 5 November 2007.[6] The U.S. Senate voted to confirm her on December 19, 2007.[7] She presented her Letters of Credence to Pope Benedict XVI on 29 February 2008, and resigned her office effective January 19, 2009.[8]

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.[9] Glendon, two cardinals, a bishop, and a monsignor are responsible for preparing an investigative report on the Vatican Bank.[10][11] In July 2014 she was appointed to be a member of the board of the IOR.[12]

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.[13]


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 was a supporter of Mitt Romney in the 2012 presidential election.[14] She also supported Romney's campaign in the 2008 presidential election.[1]

Laetare Medal 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 controversial[15] decision to host Barack Obama as its commencement speaker and bestow upon him an honorary degree.[16] 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."[17] 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.[17]

She later received an award from the National Right to Life Committee at its Pro-Life Awards Dinner in October.[18]

Personal life[edit]

In 1964 Glendon married an attorney and settled in Chicago. They divorced in 1966. In 1970 she married Edward R. Lev, a labor lawyer.[2] They remained together until Lev's death in 2013.[19] 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.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bazelon, Emily (2007-11-26) 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, 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. ^ Associated Press (2007-11-05). "Bush picks anti-abortion Harvard professor to be Vatican ambassador". International Herald Tribune. Retrieved 2007-11-06. 
  7. ^ Senate confirms Mary Ann Glendon as U.S. ambassador to Vatican Catholic News Service
  8. ^ Thavis, John (December 5, 2008), "Point of pride: Glendon glad to have served as Vatican ambassador", Catholic News Service, retrieved April 20, 2014 
  9. ^ Pope sets up Pontifical Commission to study IOR reform (radio). June 26, 2013. 13 minutes in. 
  10. ^ Pullella, Philip (June 26, 2013). "UPDATE 3-In bold move, Pope names commission to reform Vatican bank". Reuters. 
  11. ^ "Pope Francis sets up commission to review Vatican bank". BBC News. June 26, 2013. 
  12. ^ "New Economic Framework for the Holy See". Vatican Information Service. July 9, 2014. Retrieved July 13, 2014. 
  13. ^ "Masthead". First Things. 2014. Retrieved April 20, 2014. 
  14. ^ Bauman, Michelle (February 10, 2012), "Mary Ann Glendon defends Romney on religious freedom", Catholic News Agency, retrieved April 20, 2014 
  15. ^ Paulson, Michael (2009-03-21). "Notre Dame criticized over Obama invite". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 2009-06-01. 
  16. ^ "Ex-Vatican Ambassador Declines Medal at Notre Dame Commencement, Citing Obama". Fox News. 2009-04-27. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  17. ^ a b Glendon, Mary Ann (2009-04-27). "Declining Notre Dame: A Letter from Mary Ann Glendon". First Things. Retrieved 2009-05-30. 
  18. ^ Ertelt, Steven (May 5, 2009), "Pro-Life Harvard Prof Who Rejected Notre Dame Honor Will Get National Award", Life News, retrieved April 20, 2014 
  19. ^ "Edward R. Lev". The Boston Globe. October 6, 2013. Retrieved March 25, 2014. 
  20. ^ 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
U. S. Ambassador to the Holy See
Succeeded by
Miguel H. Diaz