Mary Ann Glendon did not refuse the Laetare medal because the president would speak at the Notre Dame graduation. She also did not refuse the honor because the president would receive an award at Notre Dame. She told Fr. Jenkins that she was refusing the Laetare medal for one reason, and one reason only:
Then I learned that “talking points” issued by Notre Dame in response to widespread criticism of its decision included two statements implying that my acceptance speech would somehow balance the event:This was the reason she decided to refuse the Laetare medal -- because she felt (rightly so) that she was being used as a political poker chip. This was the deal breaker.
• “President Obama won’t be doing all the talking. Mary Ann Glendon, the former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, will be speaking as the recipient of the Laetare Medal.”
• “We think having the president come to Notre Dame, see our graduates, meet our leaders, and hear a talk from Mary Ann Glendon is a good thing for the president and for the causes we care about.”
Before she decided to refuse the medal, she was indeed "dismayed" with Notre Dame's decision to give the president an honorary degree: "First, as a longtime consultant to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, I could not help but be dismayed by the news that Notre Dame also planned to award the president an honorary degree."
What Dr. Glendon did not realize at the time of writing her letter, is that Fr. Jenkins had submitted his talking points to his bishop, John D'Arcy, and had already been told that the points were in serious error.
I feel it is disingenuous to suggest that Dr. Glendon refused the award only because of Obama's stance on abortion. It's just not true. If Fr. Jenkins hadn't issued his talking points and publicized them widely, it is most likely that she would have arrived at the Notre Dame commencement and delivered a very interesting speech ("Last month, when you called to tell me that the commencement speech was to be given by President Obama, I mentioned to you that I would have to rewrite my speech."). Boy, I wish I could read that speech! I wonder whether she will release it anyway, following the pope's example in his misadventure with La Sapienza University in Rome. Who will write to her to request it?