On Friday, May 4, 2012, Georgetown University announced the speakers for its 2012 commencement ceremonies. 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)