1. Religion & Spirituality
Scott P. Richert

A Fifth Column in the Church: Georgetown University Invites Kathleen Sebelius to Speak

By May 8, 2012

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On Friday, May 4, 2012, Georgetown University announced the speakers for its 2012 commencement ceremonies.Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius attends a Women For Obama town hall meeting at the Macomb County Community College, August 19, 2008, in Warren, Michigan. (Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images) Such announcements are often timed to generate the maximum news coverage. Not this time: It would seem that the officials in charge at Georgetown hoped that the announcement—or at least part of it—would get lost in the weekend news cycle.

That part was the acknowledgment that Kathleen Sebelius, President Obama's secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), would be the speaker at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute's commencement event.

Sebelius, a professed Catholic, is radically pro-abortion, and as secretary of HHS, she has been the public face of the Obama administration's contraception mandate. As I wrote three years ago, her appointment was a slap in the face of Catholics that signaled the Obama administration's developing hostility to one of the largest groups of Democratic voters. Placing a woman who had received extensive funding from the late-term abortionist George Tiller in a position where she would vocally dissent from Catholic teaching was not simply a public-relations mistake; it was a calculated move to undermine Church authority on moral issues.

The backlash among Catholics regarding the HHS contraception mandate has been fierce and near-unanimous. It has united the Catholic Church in the United States even more completely than did President Obama's commencement address at Notre Dame. Yet now Georgetown University, the nation's first Catholic institution of higher education, has signaled its dissent not only from the Church's moral teaching on artificial contraception but from the American Catholic consensus on the Obama administration's attack on religious freedom.

In a way, Georgetown's decision to include Secretary Sebelius in one of the university's commencement events is even worse than Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement address. President Obama is the most pro-abortion president in the history of the United States; but he's not a Catholic.

Kathleen Sebelius is. While Notre Dame's invitation to President Obama sent a message that Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins denied he intended to send, there can be no doubt about the message that Georgetown intends to send: Dissent from Catholic moral teaching is acceptable, and the state can define the limits of Catholic belief.

Every Catholic bishop in the United States should denounce this invitation. And if Secretary Sebelius is allowed to take part in the Georgetown Public Policy Institute's commencement event on May 18, every Catholic bishop in the United States should instruct his flock that the university has forfeited its right to be considered a Catholic institution.

This isn't just one little event; this is another battle in the Obama administration's war on religious freedom that I have documented in The Obama Administration's Contraception Mandate. If President Obama is reelected in November, that war will continue.

The last thing the Catholic Church in America needs is a fifth column fighting to subject her to the rule of the state.

(Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius attends a "Women For Obama" town hall meeting at the Macomb County Community College, August 19, 2008, in Warren, Michigan. Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images)

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May 8, 2012 at 3:36 pm
(1) Tom Piatak says:

An excellent piece.

May 8, 2012 at 4:04 pm
(2) Everett says:

Agree..excellent article. I guess their creed to “educate” the whole person through different faiths, cultures and beliefs with exposure to the Jesuit values is misplaced…Jesuit shoud be subsituted for the “Obama” values

May 8, 2012 at 5:09 pm
(3) Lenise says:

I am a new Catholic and I wonder what the “fifth column” refers to; what are the first four?

May 8, 2012 at 5:29 pm
(4) Cheryl says:

Maybe the ‘fifth colum’ is referring to the 4 Pillars of the Church… as stated in the Catechism, the 4 Pillars are: Profession of Faith, Celebration of the Christian Mystery, Life in Christ, Christian Prayer. At least that is what I thought Scott might have meant. Congrats and welcome to the Church, Lenise!!

May 8, 2012 at 5:32 pm
(5) Scott P. Richert says:

Lenise, “fifth column” isn’t a Catholic term but a military one. It comes from the Spanish Civil War, when a general who was marching on Madrid with four columns of troops declared that he had a “fifth column” in Madrid itself.

What he meant was that there were those within Madrid who were working on behalf of him and his cause.

“Fifth column” has thus become a generic way of referring to those within a country or organization who are sympathetic to the enemies of that country or organization, and working to undermine it from within.

May 8, 2012 at 5:36 pm
(6) colleen carter says:

Thank you for the work you do to keep up informed. I hope someday they will learn the pro abortion is pro murder. Many women are suffering because of decisions they made when younger. It took me a lot of time to learn. I will not vote for any person who is pro abortion. This as the Catholic Church teaches is not negotiable. Family and friends think I am a radical so be it.

May 8, 2012 at 5:51 pm
(7) Scott P. Richert says:

Lenise and Cheryl, I probably should have titled the piece “Obama’s Fifth Column.” That would have made the reference less open to misunderstanding.

People use “fifth column” in two ways. You can say that so-and-so represents Country B’s fifth column in Country A. In that sense, “Obama’s Fifth Column” would have been better.

You can also say what I did: that there is a fifth column in Country A, representing Country B. In that case, the way that I phrased it—”The Church’s Fifth Column”—is common. But it is more confusing.

So, taking all of that into account, I’m changing the headline. :) Thanks for the comments.

May 8, 2012 at 5:53 pm
(8) Scott P. Richert says:

I came up with a compromise: “The Fifth Column in the Church.” Captures both senses, without (too much) confusion.

May 8, 2012 at 6:15 pm
(9) Lenise says:

Thanks, everyone! I was so focused on the church part, I never considered another context. I love the church and wonder why people like Ms. Sebelius want to claim the name when they don’t agree with the substance. I appreciate this site very much.

May 8, 2012 at 7:49 pm
(10) Gary Hartzheim says:

I will pray that Georgetown University will change its decision and cancel the invitation of Kathleen Sebelius to speak at the commencement ceremony.

May 8, 2012 at 7:57 pm
(11) Gary Hartzheim says:

I will pray that Georgetown University withdraw its invitation to Kathleen Sebelius to speak at their commencement.

May 8, 2012 at 9:14 pm
(12) Courtney R. says:

Lenise, I have often asked that same question… why belong to the Church if you don’t believe in it’s fundamental beliefs? I’ve see this with other Catholics and it makes no sense to me. It’s like a child rebelling from it’s parents but they never leave home because they know in their hearts what is right…. at least that is what I tell myself.

May 8, 2012 at 10:40 pm
(13) Thomas Ryan says:

Where is the bishop on this? I don’t get it. Cardinal Wuerhl is supposed to be ready to shed his blood for the Church. Why doesn’t he act? It is frustrating to have these heretics speak at my Alm Mater.

May 8, 2012 at 11:29 pm
(14) Marlowe says:

I fear for this nation and for my freedom to worship a loving Christ when a church the size of the Roman Catholic Church demands veto power over American public health policy. The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is hostile to women, to children and to families. Ordering women to spend approximately three decades enduring pregnancy after pregnancy is cruel beyond belief. Having that order come from an old man whose main contact with women is his housekeeper is obscene.

The Obama administration has not declared war on the Roman Catholic Church. In truth, the Roman Catholic Church has ramped up its centuries old war on women. The members of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops need to take a moment to read the United States Constitution and remember that it is their duty to “render unto Ceasar what is Ceasar’s”. To do less is to continue to wreak, quite probably, irreparable harm on this country and on their church.

May 9, 2012 at 1:03 am
(15) Patrick says:

I have an idea, why don’t people stop using militaristic terms and putting targets on maps when talking about people who disagree with them politically. Here in Missouri we just had a Tea Party person who was introducing a US Senate candidate and in doing so he called the current US Senator a “Care Bear,” then said “we need to kill that bear.”

This rhetoric is getting out of hand and make no mistake about it, when some deranged gunman, acting on irresponsible rhetoric kills someone, God will decide how good of a person you really are.

May 9, 2012 at 1:55 am
(16) Lenora says:

For Marlowe -when will women like you realize that women do not have a right to commit murder. Did our Heavenly Father say Thou shalt not kill? Is tje commandment now different for contemporary wpmen? I’m very disappointed with Georgetown. Who can forget that young law student and the garbage she used for her testimony recently. Just recently South Korea intercepted capsules of baby flesn in powder form for human consumption. This is a result of conning the public that abortion/murder is a woman’s right.

May 9, 2012 at 4:01 am
(17) Fredrick says:

Abortion is murder. You cant justify a good purpose by doing evil. Why support abortion yet we know we are taking away someones life, no matter how young he/she is? For Kathleen Sebelius, she can’t profess a faith that she preaches against. A man cannot belong to two kingdoms. You either protect the laws of God or go against them.

May 9, 2012 at 5:18 am
(18) EVELYN says:

i am a catholic ,which is universal ,it does matter which part of the world i come from .i enjoy this site and i stand to defend the true faith.as for Marlowe`s contribution ,it beats my immagination that someone can say such,are you so selfish that you dont even think of the innocent children that were not given the opportunity to be better than you? there is a saying in my country that says ‘A DOG THAT IS DESTINED TO DIE WILL NEVER LISTEN TO WHISTLE OF ITS OWNER’the church is saying do not kill so that you dont sin against God and do not commit abortion so as not to destroy your body and you say the church is hostile .please believe what you like but do not preach it the innocent ones .REMEMBER ,WHAT THE BOOK OF LIFE SAYS ,DO NOT LEAD THE LITTLE ONES INTO SIN

May 9, 2012 at 2:01 pm
(19) Elma Imbrenda says:

Where are the Bishops? Missing in Action — again? Why have Sebelius, Biden, Polosi, etc. not been excommunicated? These people call themselves Catholic, but they certainly do not hold to the values and teachings of the Church. They are such Hypocrites. And the so-called Catholic Universities –remove their status as representing Catholic teaching. They should be referred to as the “former” catholic universities. The whole situation is disgusting.

May 9, 2012 at 10:42 pm
(20) Marlowe says:

Lenora, when will women like you actually read the Bible and cite a specific Biblical passage that prohibits abortion? When will women like you read some history and learn that even the Roman Catholic Church did not oppose early abortions for centuries because the powers that be didn’t believe that fetuses were ensouled at conception? FYI, they taught that male fetuses were ensouled earlier than female fetuses. The men that run the RCC have never believed that women were equal to men.

Abortion is a personal decision and it’s beyond arrogant of you or anyone else, particularly a bunch of men who’ve spent decades protecting pedophilic priests, to demand that their so-called “moral authority” aka as religious bigotry be enforced on women whom God blessed with their own hearts and minds.

May 9, 2012 at 11:08 pm
(21) Marlowe says:

Evelyn, my concern is for the eleven-year-old girl who was raped by her half-brother and the mother of four who would have died without a therapeutic abortion and the twenty-year-old college student who commited suicide rather than tell her ultra-religious parents that she’s pregnant. I’m far past reproductive age, so, clearly, I don’t support a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion for my own benefit. But, I’m old enough to know 1) that very little in life is black and white and 2) that men, as a group, make rules that benefit them and not women.

Try it, Evelyn! Think for yourself. You’ll be the better person for it.

May 11, 2012 at 4:50 am
(22) oge says:

what is bad is bad. if the sound of your engine is disgusting to you then don’t turn it on. similarly if you can’t carry the pregnancy leave sexual intercourse alone. what is bad is bad. if your mother had aborted your…? Hitler still lives.

May 11, 2012 at 5:16 am
(23) Faustina says:

I am begining to think that Africans obey the word of God than those who introduced christianity to them,i dont know what we prefer wether to obey God or to disobey Him,there’s life in the blood,Marlowe let me ask you a question,if your mother aborted you on conception for whatever reason would you have been in existence today would you have all these opportunity you had.In africa no right thinking president will legilise a thing like abortion.It is sin against God and humanity,it is sacilege against God we should desist from it.

May 11, 2012 at 12:59 pm
(24) Tom Feeney says:

I live in the UK and we are having similar issues here…but i have to say that surely Georgetown University should be severely censored by th Roman Catholic bishops of the USA

May 15, 2012 at 3:41 pm
(25) Deacon Rick Bauer says:

I heard she was cancelled.

May 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm
(26) Angelica says:

This is why the Catholic church has lost so many members. You don’t care about women. I don’t know why I ever signed up for this newsletter.

May 16, 2012 at 5:20 pm
(27) Scott P. Richert says:

Angelica, what an odd comment. Out of 24 comments on this post, you are only the second woman to agree with Georgetown’s decision to invite Kathleen Sebelius to speak. All the others who agree with you are men; all the other women who have commented on this post disagree with you.

Does that mean that those women do not care about women?

May 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm
(28) Marlowe says:

It means that not all women think for themselves. Surviving in a man’s world means carrying men’s water for a lot of women. I feel sorry for them but I try to remember that not everyone can stand up against that kind of power.

oge, if my mother had aborted me, I would have been in heaven with God and Christ and not being beaten and abused as I was as a child. Some people should not have children and there are worse things than being aborted.

May 24, 2012 at 10:42 am
(29) Scott P. Richert says:

“It means that not all women think for themselves.”

Because, obviously, if they thought for themselves, they would think exactly like you. Remind me again who here has the low view of women?

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