Monday, November 18, 2002

An account of the Boston Archdiocese's Red Mass featuring a luncheon speech by Mary Ann Glendon<

Following the Mass, Mary Ann Glendon, who is the Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, addressed guild members at their annual luncheon at the Park Plaza Hotel.Retracing a history of anti-Catholic bias in America dating back to the arrival of the Pilgrims, she called upon the guild's Catholics to stand up to bigotry in their professional lives.'If not us, who? If not now, when?'' she asked.She also called upon guild Catholics not to question church practices just because others have done so since the sexual abuse scandal erupted last January.'At a time when I believe the church is under siege, Catholics are doing a great disservice when they say the church has ... a history of patriarchy ... and exclusion of ideas,'' she said. ''Can you name another institution that over the centuries has done more to advance human dignity?''Glendon rapped as anti-Catholic several authors and political leaders dating back to the 19th century, and included the late Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black and Eleanor Roosevelt in that group. Without being specific, she also criticized as bigots today's ''secular militants'' who attack all religions.

With all due respect to Mary Ann Glendon, whose work on abortion law in Europe and the US I greatly admire, I can't help but wonder about this defensive tone, not only of her speech, but of a growing number of Catholics reacting to this stage 47 of the Situation. Now is not, I don't think, the moment to be fussing about anti-Catholicism, but a time to redouble efforts to bring Christ into the world - even through the work of lawyers.

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