Georgetown criticized for having Sebelius speak at commencement event
Published: May 16, 2012
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement May 15 strongly criticizing Georgetown University for selecting Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a featured speaker at an awards ceremony during its commencement week ceremonies. Sebelius has been invited to speak at Georgetown's Public Policy Institute awards ceremony May 18 during the university's commencement weekend. The nation's Catholic bishops have repeatedly criticized the HHS contraceptive mandate, saying it threatens the religious freedom of Catholic institutions such as universities, hospitals and social service agencies because it would force them to provide employees with health insurance coverage for abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives and sterilization procedures in violation of church teaching. The statement from the Washington Archdiocese noted that because of the "dramatic impact this mandate will have on Georgetown and all Catholic institutions, it is understandable that Catholics across the country would find shocking the choice of Secretary Sebelius, the architect of the mandate, to receive such special recognition at a Catholic university. It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops." As of May 16, more than 27,000 people had signed a petition on the website of the Cardinal Newman Society urging Georgetown University's president, John DeGioia, to "withdraw the invitation to Secretary Sebelius immediately." DeGioia acknowledged in a May 14 statement that "concerns have been expressed by some" on the campus and in the larger American Catholic community objecting to Sebelius participating in an awards ceremony on campus.
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