Kathleen Sebelius's Upcoming Georgetown Commencement Speech Is Causing A Civil War Within The Catholic Church

kathleen sebelius

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The Secretary of Health and Human Services is scheduled to to give the commencement address at Georgetown University this Friday. This is becoming a huge controversy. 

It has the Archbishop of D.C. and the president of Georgetown fighting in public. Thousands of Catholics are signing angry petitions to have her ousted. 

It’s practically a civil war.  

Here’s why: 

  • Georgetown is a Catholic University, run by the Jesuits. 
  • In January Sebelius announced new regulations under Obamacare that would prevent Catholic universities and hospitals from buying health insurance that didn’t include co-pay free contraceptive, sterilization, and “morning after” pill coverage. 
  • The Catholic bishops consider this an affront to their religious liberty, as it demands that Catholic institutions either participate in something they regard as sinful or drop health coverage altogether. 
  • Catholic schools are already dropping health-care coverage because of this new regulation. 
  • Georgetown is the university that Sandra Fluke attends. She is the pro-contraception activist who Rush Limbaugh called a “slut” earlier this year, in relation to this whole controversy. 
  • The Catholic bishops are  encouraging the members of their church to protest these regulations this summer. 

Already the Archbishop of Washington D.C. Cardinal Wuerl, is now in a public spat with Georgetown president John D. DiGioia over Sebelius’ appearance. They’ve issued dueling statements in public, which only hints at the larger battles happening behind the scenes. 

DiGioia says:

The Secretary’s presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views.  As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings. 

Wuerl says

As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom. Secretary Sebelius’ mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that our Catholic schools and universities, hospitals and social service ministries do not qualify as “religious enough” to be exempt. This redefinition of religion penalizes Catholic organisations because they welcome and serve all people regardless of their faith.

Obama administration figures have to be very delicate in how they frame events like these. Originally the bishops seized the media story and Obama’s regulation was becoming extremely unpopular with Catholic swing voters in states like Ohio and Florida. Since then the White House has gained the upper-hand by saying that conservatives were engaged in a “war on women.” 

We’ll cover everything about Friday’s commencement. 

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