- Accuracy In Academia - https://www.academia.org -

Tale of Two Commencements

Georgetown [1], a Jesuit university which refuses to provide contraceptive coverage in accordance with its catholic designation, is inviting as a speaker the federal official who is most determined to make them do so—U. S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius.

“Secretary Sebelius is not speaking at Georgetown’s commencement,” Georgetown spokesman Rachel Pugh [2] said in an email to The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). “She is speaking at Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s annual student and faculty awards event.”

“The nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony, despite her role as the lead architect of a healthcare mandate that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs,” the CNS [3] had stated.

(By the way, “Over 100,000 organizations opposed this mandate when it was announced in August, and Colorado Christian University, an Evangelical university, has joined the Becket Fund in their lawsuits against this mandate,” the self-same Becket Fund for Religious Liberty states. “If the First Amendment means anything, it means the government can’t force religious institutions to violate their conscience.”)

“Secretary Sebelius deserves civility and respect as the appointed Secretary of our government Department of Health and Human Services,” a letter to Georgetown from Catholic Vote.org avers. “She does not, however, deserve a platform or place of honor at a prominent Catholic institution commencement ceremony.”

(Full disclosure: Your correspondent signed onto this letter as a concerned Catholic citizen.)

“The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the U.S. bishops’ 2004 instruction on “Catholics in Political Life” states. “They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”

“Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2009,” Georgetown’s announcement [4] of her talk reads. “Since taking office, she has led efforts to improve America’s health and enhance the delivery of human services to some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including young children, those with disabilities and the elderly.” Note that they don’t mention the unborn.

“As part of the historic Affordable Care Act, she is implementing reforms she says have ended many of the insurance industry’s most discriminatory practices and will help 34 million uninsured Americans get health coverage,” Georgetown claims. “She is also working with doctors, nurses, hospital leaders, employers and patients to implement policies aimed at slowing the growth of health care costs.”

 Meanwhile, across town, the other Catholic university in Washington, D. C., appropriately

named Catholic University, has invited as its commencement speaker the man who has galvanized the Catholic Bishops into opposing the health care mandate— Cardinal Timothy M..Dolan, Archbishop of New York.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia [5].

If you would like to comment on this article, e-mail mal.kline@academia.org [6].