Former US Ambassadors to the Holy See Receive Award From Thomas More College

Raymond Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon were honored Oct. 28 for their pro-life witness.

L to R: Mary Ann Glendon and Raymond Flynn attend the Oct. 28 honors banquet.
L to R: Mary Ann Glendon and Raymond Flynn attend the Oct. 28 honors banquet. (photo: Courtesy of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts)

MERRIMACK, N.H. — Thomas More College of Liberal Arts honored two longtime pro-life witnesses who have both served as U.S. ambassadors to the Holy See: Raymond Flynn and Mary Ann Glendon.

The honorees received the Thomas More Medal at the Bedford Village Inn in Bedford, New Hampshire, on Oct. 28.

Flynn served as mayor of Boston from 1984 to 1993 and as Holy See ambassador during the Clinton administration.

Glendon, Learned Hand professor of law emerita at Harvard Law School, served as Holy See ambassador during the George W. Bush administration; in addition, during the pontificates of Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, she was president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences.

“It is apt that a college dedicated to Thomas More should present these medals to Ambassadors Flynn and Glendon, for like Thomas More, these two great souls gave witness to their faith, their principles, and the fullness of Catholic social teaching, and they did so while making every effort to keep friendships and show generosity towards those who opposed them,” Thomas More College President William Fahey said of the honorees. “They perfectly capture the spirit of St. Thomas More, who ended meetings and letters to family, friend and foe alike, with the words that he hoped and prayed, that after this life was over ‘they would all meet merrily in heaven.’”

In her acceptance speech, Glendon said, “I am more honored than I can say to receive this award named for the saint who set the highest possible standard for lawyers and politicians. And I am more humbled than I can say to receive it in the company of a true American hero, Ray Flynn.” 

She added, “Ray has always been a champion of the least advantaged. And nowhere more so than in his unwavering support for the protection of human life at its fragile beginnings and endings, often at great personal and political cost. Ray has been the very model of what it means to take to heart St. Paul’s advice to the Corinthians, ‘Do not conform to the spirit of the age, but do what is good, pleasing and perfect in the sight of the Lord.’”

She also spoke about the challenges in the educational landscape, holding up Thomas More College as a beacon of hope.

“Thankfully, tonight we are in a place where the importance of conserving social capital is still understood and where our precious Western intellectual inheritance is being passed on to a new generation,” she said. “Thomas More College brings the great tradition of faith and reason alive for its students every day — not only in the classroom, but in every aspect of college life, including the wonderful semesters in Rome where sophomores are brought into vivid contact with the history of Christendom. So, thank you again, President Fahey. Like the Irish monks who kept the lamp of learning alive through the Dark Ages, you and your faculty are making Thomas More a beacon on the landscape of American education.”

Flynn briefly discussed the public-service roles he has held over the years.

“Each of those experiences that I had gave me the opportunities to share those challenges,” reflected Flynn in his off-the-cuff remarks, adding that our goal is heaven and it’s our job to help one another get there.

“I stood right next to John Paul II,” he said, when recalling his ambassadorship. “He was a very, very close friend of mine,” noting that it was difficult for him when the Pope died. He also added some trivia: The Irish Flynn was born in Boston near a Polish church, which the Polish Pope appreciated.

“If John Paul II could be here tonight, he would tell you, ‘Keep up the strong character of the Catholic Church.’ He would say, ‘I love you.’ And tonight we say, ‘We love you.’”

Flynn also spoke of St. Thomas More and his friend Mary Ann Glendon, extolling their witness of standing up for the faith. He also highlighted Glendon’s refusal of an honor because it had a pro-abortion connection

According to a press release from the college, Boston Cardinal Seán O’Malley expressed praise for the honorees’ witness “on behalf of the Church and the people of God” and “their dedication to the sanctity of life.” 

Princeton professor Robert George also said in the release, “Ambassador Flynn has provided a model of statesmanship by subordinating personal and partisan interests to the interests of justice and the common good,” adding that Glendon’s “entire life has been dedicated to bearing Christian witness and serving God and neighbor.”