Ambassador to the Vatican

April 18, 2008 11:22:14 AM PDT
When a call came from the White House last summer, 69-year-old Harvard law school professor, Mary Ann Glendon was in the middle of writing a book on people who had to choose between academia and politics. She had no idea she would become a character in her own book.

"It never occured to me that I would be plunged into a choice like that myself," said Glendon

President Bush tapped Glendon with a holy mission as the Ambassador to the Vatican.

Eyewitness News' Sade Baderinwa spoke with the Ambassador.

This past February, Glendon was officially installed as the new American Ambassador to the Holy See. She says she was struck by Pope Benedict XVI gentleness and ease.

"After the first minute or two you feel you could speak to him about anything," said Glendon

Glendon, a registered independent, is considered one of America's leading Catholic thinkers. This is not her first interaction with the Vatican. She broke the gender barrier in 2004 when Pope John Paul II named her President of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, becoming the first woman to hold such a prestigious academic post at the Vatican.

An insight that helps navigate the waters when ideology between the Vatican and the White House collide- such is the case with - the war in Iraq. The Pope has opposed the war from the start. It was a topic that came up when President Bush met the Holy Father at the vatican last June,and is likely to come up again during the Pope's visit to the U.S. But this time, Glendon says the two leaders will focus on finding common ground.

"They want to build a society in Iraq where minorities will be protected and they want to establish peace and security in the region," said Glendon

Pope Benedict will likely touch on the Iraq war and human rights issues when he addresses the United Nations.

Glendon expects the speech will leave Americans and the world with a lot to think about.

"There will be a lot of food for food for thought in what he gives us, but its not going to be fast food. Its going to take time to digest," said Glendon