WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012 ( – The Cardinal Newman Society is sending to Georgetown University President John DiGioia the names of more than 26,000 people who joined an open letter urging Georgetown to cancel an invitation to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at a diploma ceremony this Friday.

The petitions are also being shared with Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C., and Pope Benedict XVI’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Vigano.

“These signers are students, alumni, Catholic families, pastors and others who can no longer tolerate Georgetown University’s betrayal of our Church and our Catholic beliefs,” CNS President Patrick J. Reilly wrote in a cover letter to DiGioia on Wednesday. “You have two more days to stop this scandal and insult.  We pray that you appreciate the deep concern of these signers and hear through them the voice of reason.”

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The Cardinal Newman Society posted the petition at on May 4, within hours of the University’s public announcement. Other groups posted similar petitions the following week, with thousands of signers joining in opposition to the Sebelius invitation.

The Archdiocese of Washington voiced disapproval of the invitation this week, saying that the university has “undergone a secularization” and that the invitation to Sebelius, the “architect” of the federal mandate forcing religious employers to pay for birth control, “can only be seen as a statement of where the university stands – certainly not with the Catholic bishops.”

Sebelius is also known for her extreme pro-abortion views and political record.

Of the more than 26,000 signers to The Cardinal Newman Society’s open letter, 669 self-identified as having some relationship to Georgetown University. 

Another petition spearheaded by the group Catholics for Unity has been signed by over 35,000 people as of this writing.

The letter reads:

Dear President DeGioia:

It has come to the attention of The Cardinal Newman Society and the following signers that U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has been granted the honor of speaking at the diploma ceremony for Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute on Friday, May 18.  We strongly urge you to withdraw the invitation to Secretary Sebelius immediately.

It is scandalous and outrageous that America’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has elected to provide this prestigious platform to a publicly “pro-choice” Catholic who is most responsible for the Obama administration’s effort to restrict the Constitution’s first freedom — the right to free exercise of religion — while threatening the survival of many Catholic and other religious colleges and universities, schools, charities, hospitals and other apostolates.

Georgetown insults all Americans by this honor.  The selection is especially insulting to faithful Catholics and their bishops, who are engaged in the fight for religious liberty and against abortion.  The contrast is stark between Georgetown University and those faithful Catholic colleges and universities that have stood for faith and freedom.


Patrick J. Reilly


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