WASHINGTON, May 9, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Following an outcry from conservative Catholic leaders, Georgetown University, a Catholic Jesuit university, has changed an initial report announcing Health Secretary Kathleen Sebelius as a commencement speaker this year, and now lists her scheduled appearance this month as one among several “speakers for other Georgetown schools.”
The change was noticed days after the Cardinal Newman Society launched a petition against the school demanding that they disinvite the Secretary, a Catholic who spearheaded the Obama administration’s pending mandate to force religious employers to cover birth control against their beliefs. Prior to leading Obama’s health department, Sebelius was known for her extraordinarily pro-abortion administration as Kansas governor, whose political career there was actively supported by late-term abortionist George Tiller.
CNS reports that Georgetown spokesman Rachel Pugh emphasized in an email to the Catholic education watchdog group that “we do not have one main commencement speaker,” and the “Tropaia” event at which Sebelius would be present was not a commencement ceremony. “Secretary Sebelius is not speaking at Georgetown’s commencement. She is speaking at Georgetown Public Policy Institute’s (GPPI) annual student and faculty awards event,” she wrote.
CNS argues that GPPI’s own working on its website considers the Sebelius appearance and the commencement ceremony part of the same event, with diplomas even being distributed in the former.
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“The Graduate School Commencement Ceremony and GPPI’s Tropaia are actually one ceremony and you should definitely go to both parts. Your degree will be conferred at the Graduate School ceremony … GPPI’s Tropaia ceremony is where diplomas will be distributed. Each student will walk across the stage to be recognized,” it states.
CNS also notes that the announcement mentioning Sebelius is still headlined “Commencement 2012 to Feature Wide Range of Speakers,” and that Georgetown President John DeGioia is quoted celebrating “our commencement speakers.” Sebelius had previously been explicitly listed as a speaker at GPPI’s “commencement ceremon[y].”
Since news of the scandal broke on Friday, over 16,000 have signed an online petition calling for Sebelius to be disinvited.
Meanwhile, a former dean of the same Georgetown public policy institute hailed Sebelius as “an inspiration for our students” at the Jesuit university.
“She will be an excellent speaker,” Judy Feder, who is now a professor at GPPI, told The Cardinal Newman Society. ”We’ve been fortunate to have Cabinet secretaries before. Secretary Sebelius is a great inspiration to our students.”
When questioned about Sebelius’ role promulgating and defending the HHS mandate, CNS says Feder dismissed the issue. “I don’t see it that way. Georgetown already covers these services for employees,” she said.
“The real issue is that this is a public policy school. What I would say as a professor in the Public Policy Institute is that I value Georgetown’s commitment to exposing students to a wide array of ideas.”
CNS notes that when Feder ran for Congress in 2008, she was hailed by the National Organization for Women as a candidate who “fully supports women’s right to choose abortion and birth control, as well as access to family planning services that include emergency contraception.”