WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 5, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Mary Ann Glendon, who has served in key Vatican posts for years, may soon represent her native country before the Holy See.
U.S. President George Bush announced today his intention to nominate Glendon, Harvard law professor and president of the Pontifical Academy for Social Sciences, as ambassador of the United States to the Holy See.
If the nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Glendon will succeed Francis Rooney, who has held the post since 2005.
Catholic author and former U.S. ambassador Michael Novak, a longtime friend and colleague of Glendon, told ZENIT that her appointment is "providential, and a great blessing for all of us."
He called Glendon an "outstanding Catholic and an outstanding American," and added that she is "one of the most distinguished women in the United States. Well-known and much admired in the legal profession and among her peers at Harvard, she has been a cherished adviser to leaders both in Church and state."
Glendon began her work with the Vatican in 1994 when Pope John Paul II appointed her to lead the Holy See delegation to the U.N. 4th World Conference on Women in Beijing.
The Pope, who Novak said "counted her as a friend," then appointed Glendon that same year to the newly formed Pontifical Academy of Social Science. She was named the academy's first female president in 2004, the second woman to be appointed to lead a Vatican council.
"She is not new to Rome," the author said, who added that she's not a stranger to Washington either. "Her record has been well-known to President Bush for some time, and she is much admired by him."
Pia di Solenni, a moral theologian who was presented the 2001 Pontifical Academies Award by John Paul II for her work on developing an authentic feminism, said "Glendon's appointment as ambassador to the Holy See is a wonderful recognition of the Catholic Church's teaching that women have a role in every aspect of society. We are fortunate that someone of her abilities is able to serve in this leadership position."
Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, told ZENIT that he is "grateful to President Bush for appointing professor Glendon to this position and grateful as well to Professor Glendon for accepting it."
The appointment, he said, "will benefit both our country and the Church."
Citing Glendon's knowledge of comparative law, family law, bioethics and international human rights, Cardinal George added that the new ambassador will not only make a contribution to the U.S.-Vatican relations, but will also "help the United States and the Holy See cooperate in advancing the causes of peace, justice and human rights."
Born in 1938 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, Glendon is married and has three daughters. She has taught law at Boston University and was a visiting professor at the University of Chicago and at the Pontifical Gregorian University and the Regina Apostolorum university in Rome.
She has been the Learned Hand professor of law at Harvard since 1993. Her areas of expertise include human rights, comparative law, constitutional law and legal theory.
Glendon is the author of numerous books, including "Abortion and Divorce in Western Law," "Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse," and "A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."
She serves on the U.S. President's Council on Bioethics, and is also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
ZE07110509 - 2007-11-05