Georgetown Edits Sebelius Commencement Announcement After Complaints

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 7, 2012   |   5:38PM   |   Washington, DC

After tens of thousands of people complained to Georgetown University about its having pro-abortion HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as one of its commencement speakers, the Catholic college has attempted to play down her participation.

Sebelius has an extensive pro-abortion record, including presiding over the implementation of Obamacare, her gubernatorial administration shredding documents in Kansas while she was governor that resulted in the dismissal of a criminal case against Planned Parenthood, and her close relationship to abortion practitioner George Tiller.

The Cardinal Newman Society has been leading a campaign to get students, staff, alumni and other concerned people to contact Georgetown. It has also alerted Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl and sent a letter to Georgetown President John DeGioia urging him to immediately withdraw the invitation.

In response to that campaign, according to CNS’s blog, Georgetown has edited the announcement mentioning Sebelius’ participation.

Rather than rescind its invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at the graduation ceremony for its Public Policy Institute (GPPI) on May 18, Georgetown University has quietly edited its website announcement of the event and is now attempting to deny that she is a “commencement speaker.”

“Secretary Sebelius is not speaking at Georgetown’s commencement. She is speaking at Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s annual student and faculty awards event,” Georgetown spokesman Rachel Pugh said in an email to The Cardinal Newman Society.

“Georgetown has 28 ceremonies to honor the achievements of our graduates and our faculty.  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.

But CNS notes the announcement is still headlined “Commencement 2012 to Feature Wide Range of Speakers,” and Georgetown President John DeGioia is quoted celebrating “our commencement speakers.”



In the following list of speakers, Sebelius is now listed under the subhead, “Speakers at Other Ceremonies,” and is identified as speaking at GPPI’s “Tropaia” ceremony.  “Tropaia” is described as as Greek word meaning “trophies.”

But that’s not what Georgetown announced Friday.  The Friday subhead declared, “Speakers at Other Commencement Ceremonies,” and “Tropaia” was not mentioned.  The Cardinal Newman Society has a printout of Friday’s announcement which we can make available to reporters.

CNS indicates ore than 12,500 people have signed a petition opposing Sebelius’ participation.

“The nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony, despite her role as the lead architect of a healthcare mandate that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs,” CNS said.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has termed the mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion” that is “alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law,” “a violation of personal civil rights” and “a mandate to act against our teachings.”

CNS added, “But Secretary Sebelius’ record on abortion is at least as troubling as the mandate. When Governor of Kansas, Sebelius supported abortion rights and vetoed pro-life legislation.  In 2008, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City reportedly told Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, to stop receiving the Eucharist until she publicly recants her position on abortion and makes a ‘worthy sacramental confession.’”

Members of The Society for Truth and Justice, a pro-life group, plan to protest the commencement address. Missy Reilly Smith talked more about the plans.

“I was arrested at Notre Dame for protesting Obama’s speech at the commencement; I am even more enraged that Georgetown has invited Sebelius to speak, who has a long history of supporting late-term child slaughter,” she said. “You can bet my friends and I will be at Georgetown…and probably end up in jail.”