Question: Which Catholic public official in America is currently causing the most damage to the Catholic faith? The answer is easy: It’s HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and specifically through her championing of President Obama’s mandate on contraception and abortion drugs.
There are all sorts of ways the Church is forced to respond to Sebelius’s actions, from her own bishop dealing with her personally to the USCCB and Catholic institutions dealing with her and Obama’s unprecedented assault on Catholics’ freedom of conscience. But one way that no Catholic or Catholic institution should respond would be by honoring Sebelius with a platform at a commencement ceremony—a giant no-no explicitly forbidden by John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae.
Yeah, but, gee, come on, no institution would do that!
Well, amazingly, one such Catholic institution, Georgetown University, has done just that. Yes, that’s right. Georgetown invited Sebelius to give a commencement address. It’s true, it really is. You can’t make this up.
Georgetown’s action is stunning, a flagrant, arrogant in-your-face gesture to the Catholic Church.
For a slightly different take on this, consider my perspective as a professor. I teach political science and government at an undergraduate institution. I have superb students who constantly consider Georgetown for graduate school. Do I continue to recommend they consider Georgetown?
Beyond Kathleen Sebelius, another Georgetown incident sticks with me:
It occurred in April 2005. It was related to me by a former student attending grad school at Georgetown. It was shortly after the death of John Paul II. My student was among other students awaiting the announcement of the new pope. When Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger stepped out, my student—thrilled to see Ratzinger as the new pope—was suddenly horrified at the litany of obscenities and insults shouted by his fellow Georgetown students. “Fascist!” one student yelled at the new pope, adding another choice “f” word to his insult. “Nazi!” screeched another.
My student, a former Baptist considering converting to the Catholic Church, halted the conversion process right there. If this was Catholicism, he wanted none of it.
And, indeed, maybe that’s the crux of the issue at Georgetown. Is this Catholicism?
For Catholic Exchange dot com and Ave Maria Radio, I’m Paul Kengor.