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Bush to tap Harvard professor as Vatican envoy

Harvard scholar needs Senate OK

Email|Print| Text size + By Andrew Miga
Associated Press / November 6, 2007

WASHINGTON - President Bush plans to nominate Harvard University law professor Mary Ann Glendon to be his new US ambassador to the Vatican.

Glendon, 69, is an antiabortion scholar and an opponent of gay marriage who has written about the effects of divorce and increased litigation on society. Her 1987 book, "Abortion and Divorce in Western Law," was critical of the Supreme Court's 1973 Roe v. Wade decision that established a legal right to abortion.

The White House announced yesterday that Bush will nominate Glendon to the post, which requires Senate confirmation.

Glendon was appointed by Pope John Paul II in 1994 to the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, a panel that advises the Roman Catholic Church on social policy.

She has served as an adviser to the Vatican in several capacities. In 1995, she was the first woman to lead a delegation of the Holy See at the United Nations Women's Conference in Beijing. She also has served on the Pontifical Council for the Laity and as a consultant to the Pontifical Council on the Family.

Glendon also served on the President's Council on Bioethics, which considers ethics in areas including cloning and gene research. Glendon is a past winner of the National Humanities Medal.

Republican presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, who last summer named Glendon to co-chair his campaign advisory committee on the constitution and courts, praised the choice.

"She will serve our country with the honor and dignity we expect from those who represent our country's values abroad. While I may have lost her trusted counsel to our campaign, our country has gained an extremely gifted ambassador," Romney said in a statement.

A native of Dalton, Glendon was the daughter of a reporter at The Berkshire Eagle newspaper. She received undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Chicago.

Her first job in academia was at Boston College in 1968. She became a visiting professor of law at Harvard in 1974 and a full professor in 1986.

Glendon teaches in the areas of human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and legal theory.

Former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn held the Vatican ambassadorship during part of the Clinton administration, from 1993 to 1997.

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