Mary Ann Glendon to receive 2018 Evangelium Vitae Medal

Author: Kenneth Hallenius

Mary Ann Glendon

The University of Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture will award the 2018 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal to former U.S. ambassador and Harvard professor of law Mary Ann Glendon at a Mass and banquet on April 28, 2018.

The Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, named for St. John Paul II's 1995 encyclical on life issues, is the nation’s most important lifetime achievement award for heroes of the pro-life movement, honoring individuals whose efforts have served to proclaim the Gospel of human life by steadfastly affirming and defending its sanctity from its earliest stages.

“Glendon is one of the most extraordinary figures in academia and the global public square,” said O. Carter Snead, the William P. and Hazel B. White Director of the Center for Ethics and Culture. “She personifies the goods at the heart of the Evangelium Vitae Medal. Through her work as a world-class scholar and teacher, a diplomat, a White House bioethics adviser and an official of the Holy See, she has provided a joyful, loving and unwavering witness to the dignity of all persons, born and unborn, as created in the image and likeness of God. She sets the standard for all of us who work to build a culture of life worldwide. There is no one like her.”

“Mary Ann Glendon is certainly among the most accomplished women in the Church today and a worthy recipient of this year's award,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. “I'm grateful to the Center for Ethics and Culture for recognizing Glendon for her impressive service to the Church and to life.”

Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., vice president for mission engagement and Church affairs, added that the Evangelium Vitae Medal is a wonderful expression of our vocation to build a culture of life.

“For me, the University of Notre Dame is a beacon in higher academia, and the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture is a shining example of everything that is best in Our Lady’s University,” said Glendon. “The center is a living witness to the fact that world-class teaching and scholarship not only can but must be integrated with faith in God and respect for the intrinsic dignity of every human life, if truth is to be pursued and grasped in its fullness. The CEC’s innovative student programming, first-rate research, and exciting cultural initiatives provide a model of how to promote a culture of life in tumultuous times. I am honored and humbled to have been designated by them to receive the Evangelium Vitae Medal.”

Glendon is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and the former U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. She is a commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom and a member of the Board of Supervisors for the Vatican’s Institute of Religious Works. She served two terms on the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics and is a former president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences. She has represented the Holy See at various conferences, including the 1995 United Nations women's conference in Beijing where she led a Vatican delegation that advocated for the dignity of women and children in the face of international pressure to expand abortion access.

As a scholar, Glendon is widely published in family law, legal ethics, human rights, constitutional law, international comparative law and civil rights. Her book “Abortion and Divorce in Western Law” won the Scribes Book Award for best writing on a legal subject, followed by “The Transformation of Family Law” (1989), winner of the legal academy’s highest honor, the Order of the Coif Triennial Book Award. The New York Times reviewer described Glendon’s “A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights” (2001) as the definitive study of the framing of the UDHR. Her most recent book is a series of biographical essays exploring the relation between political philosophy and politics-in-action, “The Forum and the Tower: How Scholars and Politicians Have Imagined the World, from Plato to Eleanor Roosevelt” (2011).

The 2017 medal was presented to the Jerome Lejeune Foundation. Previous recipients include Richard Doerflinger, associate director of the USCCB’s Secretariat for Pro-Life Activities; Helen M. Alvaré, professor of law at George Mason University; Mother Agnes Mary Donovan and the Sisters of Life; Congressman Chris Smith, co-chair of the Bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, and his wife, Marie Smith, director of the Parliamentary Network for Critical Issues; Supreme Knight Carl Anderson and the Knights of Columbus; and the Little Sisters of the Poor.

Announced annually on Respect Life Sunday, the first Sunday of October, the Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae award consists of a specially commissioned medal and $10,000 prize. More information at: