HLS Prof Tapped As Vatican Envoy

President Bush announced earlier this week that he will nominate Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon to be the new U.S. Ambassador to the Vatican.

The 69-year-old legal scholar’s selection, which was revealed on Monday in a White House press release, was met with praise from her colleagues at the Law School.

She is slated to replace Francis Rooney who has held the post since 2005. Her nomination will require Senate confirmation.

Glendon, the Learned Hand Professor of Law, is an anti-abortion scholar and well-known supporter of Catholic creed. She joined the Law School faculty as a visiting professor in 1974 and became a full professor in 1986. She teaches and writes on human rights and comparative and international law.

Glendon did not return requests for comment yesterday, but released a statement to The Crimson on her nomination through her assistant.

“My hope is that my background in international legal studies, together with my familiarity with Catholic social thought, will aid me in continuing the fruitful dialogue that presently exists between the United States and the Holy See on a range of international issues,” she wrote.

Several of Glendon’s closest colleagues described her yesterday as an expert in multiple fields, an active member of the faculty, and a popular figure among students.

Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz said he believes Glendon is the perfect choice.

“She is a committed Catholic and equally committed to the interests of the U.S. and the interests of human rights,” he said. “She has very good relations with the Vatican and excellent credentials.”

Daniel R. Coquillette, the Kissel Visiting Professor of Law, said he believes the nomination is not political.

“In terms of what matters to the Vatican—human rights, social justice issues—I don’t think anyone knows more than Mary Ann,” he said.

Glendon served on President Bush’s Council on Bioethics—a collection of doctors, legal and ethical scholars, and scientists created in 2001 that examines the ethics of human cloning, stem cell research, and other politically-charged medical issues. Glendon was rumored to be a potential Supreme Court nominee after Sandra Day O’Connor announced her retirement in 2005.

Glendon also has a long-standing relationship with the Vatican. In 1994, she was appointed by Pope John Paul II to lead the newly created Pontifical Academy of Social Science. She headed the Holy See’s delegation to the Fourth U.N. Women’s Conference in Beijing in 1995. She is also a member of the Pontifical Council for the Laity.

Glendon received her B.A., J.D., and master of comparative law degrees from the University of Chicago. She lives in Chestnut Hill, Mass. with her husband and three daughters.