Blog Post

Georgetown Downplays Sebelius Invite

Although they have not yet rescinded an invitation to HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a graduation ceremony later this month, Georgetown University is feeling the pressure of thousands of letters of protest and has amended its statement to downplay Sebelius' participation in their graduation festivities.

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) is reporting that in less than three days, their petition drive against Georgetown's decision to host Sebelius gathered more than 12,000 signatures.

With the controversy growing by the hour, Georgetown has "quietly edited" its website announcement of the event and is now denying that Sebelius is a "commencement speaker."

“Georgetown has 28 ceremonies to honor the achievements of our graduates and our faculty," said Georgetown spokesman Rachel Pugh in an e-mail to CNS.

"We have 10 official commencement ceremonies to award degrees for the different schools within the university, and 18 other awards ceremonies to honor student and faculty achievements. We do not have one main commencement speaker. The GPPI ceremony is one event during commencement weekend, but it is not a commencement ceremony (degrees are not conferred),” the email continued.

This is a far cry from the almost gleeful announcement made on May 4 when Georgetown President John DeGioia is quoted as celebrating “our commencement speakers."

Princetown University Professor Robert P. George used his blog, The Mirror of Justice, to weigh in on the growing scandal.

"The left-liberals who run the show at Georgetown have found a way to signal to the world that the nation’s oldest Catholic, and most famous Jesuit, university stands with the Obama administration in its war (to use, if I recall correctly, Kathleen Sebelius’s own word) against the Catholic bishops and others who oppose the HHS mandate as a violation of religious freedom and the rights of conscience (you know, the enemies of women’s “reproductive health”). By honoring Secretary Sebelius, they can help to undermine the bishops’ credibility and blunt the force of their witness as leaders of the Catholic church. I get it. It’s a bold and clever move. Although I find its substance appalling, I can’t help but admire its shrewdness."

In a letter protesting the invitation, Cardinal Newman Society president Patrick J. Reilly told DeGioia that “Georgetown insults all Americans by this honor.” He called it “scandalous and outrageous” that America’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university would provide such a “prestigious platform” to a Catholic who supports abortion and has played a key role in launching the controversial contraception mandate that threatens the continued existence of many Catholic institutions.

Click here to sign the petition.

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