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Robert P. George has that Sebelius-at-Georgetown situation all figured out for you.

As soon as Georgetown announced that its roster of commencement-weekend speakers would include Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, the orthodoxy cops at the Cardinal Newman Society were all over it. The move "can only be interpreted as a direct challenge to Americas Catholic bishops" -- isn't it obvious? After all, she's "the lead architect of the Obama administrations assault on religious freedom through the HHS contraception mandate." How could a Catholic university bestow an honorary degree on such a person? What's that? She's not receiving an honorary degree? She's one of eleven people who will be speaking over commencement weekend, and several others are receiving honorary degrees? Oh. Well, then how could a Catholic university "honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony"?Worry yourself no longer. Robert P. George has the answer:

It's relatively simple: The left-liberals who run the show at Georgetown have found a way to signal to the world that the nation's oldest Catholic, and most famous Jesuit, university stands with the Obama administration in its war (to use, if I recall correctly, Kathleen Sebelius's own word) against the Catholic bishops and others who oppose the HHS mandate as a violation of religious freedom and the rights of conscience (you know, the enemies of women's "reproductive health"). By honoring Secretary Sebelius, they can help to undermine the bishops' credibility and blunt the force of their witness as leaders of the Catholic church. I get it. It's a bold and clever move. Although I find its substance appalling, I can't help but admire its shrewdness.

Eureka. What a brilliant play. Maybe the CIA should start recruiting these lefties for psy-ops. Certainly, one must acknowledge that it's not always easy to discern the motives of large institutions. But, as William of Ockham taught, all things being equal, the most presumptuous hypothesis must be true.Unless it isn't. Over to you, John DeGioia, president of Georgetown:

Last fall, public policy students expressed preferences for potential speakers who could participate in the program. Given her role in crafting the landmark legislation that will make health care more accessible to 34 million Americans who are currently uninsured, Secretary Sebelius was identified by students as a leading policy maker in our country who could contribute to this event. Secretary Sebelius has a long and distinguished record of public service, including two terms as governor of Kansas before beginning her service in April, 2009, as Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. She is also the spouse and the mother of Georgetown graduates.In early January, an invitation was extended to Secretary Sebelius and she accepted. In the weeks that followed, elements of the legislation, specifically terms covering contraception, dominated our public discourse and impacted our Georgetown community very directly.In different contexts over the past three months, including a March 14 Statement on Religious Freedom and HHS Mandate, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed strong opposition to the position put forward by the Obama Administration. Some have interpreted the invitation of Secretary Sebelius as a challenge to the USCCB. It was not. The invitation to Secretary Sebelius occurred prior to the January 20th announcement by the Obama Administration of the modified healthcare regulations.The Secretarys presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views. As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings.We are a university, committed to the free exchange of ideas. We are a community that draws inspiration from a religious tradition that provides us with an intellectual, moral, and spiritual foundation. By engaging these values we become the University we are meant to be.

Ah, but one question remains. President DeGioia claims the idea for inviting Sebelius came from students. But he doesn't explain how that idea got into their heads in the first place, does he?(Full disclosure: Commonweal is honoring DeGioia with the Catholic in the Public Square Award in September. Rest assured, we'll get to the bottom of this.)

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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I extend my best wishes to Secretary Sebelius in her war against the Catholic bishops.However, I will be surprised if she uses her commencement speech at Georgetown to advance her war against the Catholic bishops.

This issue has been blown way out of proportion, now even with conspiracy theories about how it came about. The GPPI (The Georgetown Public Policy Institute) offers graduate programs only, most are Masters degree and certificates. Each degree granting entity at Georgetown has a Tropaia (Greek for "trophy") ceremony at which academic awards are presented to the graduates who have earned them. Sebelius is speaking at this GPPI ceremony and not at its commencement. She is not receiving an honorary degree.As the President has explained, decisions about speakers for June ceremonies are made months in advance in order to secure the people who are selected. Since the GPPI students are beyond being undergraduates and are pretty savvy about public policy it should be no surprise that Sebelius would be high on their list as a potential speaker because of her public policy record.The hysterics over this matter are unfortunate. The Archdiocesan newspaper published a very rude and insulting anonymous editorial yesterday bringing the level of civility to a low point. On the Archdiocesan web page a Monsignor, ironically named Pope, added oil to the fire with his inane commentary on the editorial. It is amazing how quickly people pile on.

The obvious problem is this: "We are a university, committed to the free exchange of ideas." Doesn't Georgetown know we are a Church ruled by an absolute monarchy, guarded by mandatums, protected by professions of faith and oaths of loyalty, and shielded by sanctions enforced by procedures that do not meet modern standards of justice?

Well, one benefit of her participation is that if her performance is anything like her recent Congressional testimony, the students will see the inherent weakness of her views.

Alan C. Mitchell says that Secretary Sebelius is not even speaking at a commencement ceremony at Georgetown. Oh my.

It is my natural inclination to defend Georgetown, and I have been doing so (up to a point) over on First Things, where not only Georgetown has been attacked, but the entire Jesuit order. However . . .One could hardly imagine a more inflammatory move than inviting Secretary Sebelius to speak at a Catholic university, and this would have been true before the contraceptive mandate. She was, after all, asked to stop receiving communion in 2008. She was considered notorious by those in the pro-life movement even before she became Secretary of HHS. She is more or less the quintessential example of a "bad Catholic" in public service. Although the letter to Paul Ryan from 90 members of the Georgetown faculty was a very different letter than the one to President DeGioia protesting the Sebelius invitation, and I argued over on First Things that it was unfair to compare them, nevertheless it gave the appearance that ten times more of the Georgetown faculty was critical of Paul Ryan than of Sebelius. That may not be a fair conclusion, but it is certainly one that those on the Georgetown faculty could have predicted. As someone who is very liberal, I nevertheless find it easy to understand why conservatives scoff at liberal Catholics. I appreciate any support for gay rights from important political leaders, but even I was rolling my eyes when I watched Nancy Pelosi claim her religion compelled her to support same-sex marriage.

My colleague, John O'Malley, SJ, has written a timely and thoughtful article for America on whether medieval universities could pass muster as Catholic today

It is significant that the invitation was extended before the HHS mandate. Point taken. However, the HHS mandate was not Sebelius' first grave overstep of Catholic morality.The one expression that no one uses is the one that matters most in these debates: absolute moral norms. There are acts that as Catholics we cannot do, and cannot support, under any circumstances. Catholic institutions should all be on board with this, and Catholic individuals, especially civic leaders, should be admonished about this.

Alan C. Mitchell says that Secretary Sebelius is not even speaking at a commencement ceremony at Georgetown. Oh my.Thomas Farrell,Now back to the other side, where I feel more comfortable!I can't tell you how many times I heard people say over the Notre Dame/Obama controversy that the problem wasn't that he was invited to speak. It was that he was given an honorary degree. Now we have a speaker eminently well qualified to speak on public policy speaking at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, and the standard has changed. It may be considered an honor to be invited there, but she is not being "honored" (with an honorary degree).

If Robert George is so sure of how Catholic universities should relate to the world, why doesn't he leave secular Princeton for a ghetto-minded institution approved by the Cardinal Newman Society?

David NickolThank you for your defense of Georgetown and the Jesuits, who by the way had no role to play in the GPPI decision to invite Sebelius. People do not understand how universities like Georgetown and Notre Dame are organized and run. They are separately incorporated, so that the religious orders that established them no longer control them. You raise a very good point about the prudence of inviting Sebelius. As one who signed the Paul Ryan letter, let me just say that no one sought to prevent him from speaking. The letter was about his appeal to Catholic social teaching to justify his budget. Here is where I see a distinction between him and Sebelius. She does not claim to have Catholic teaching on her side. And so you are correct in pointing out the differences between the circumstances of both speakers.

Kathy,I hear what your are saying, but it seems "Catholic morality" is limited to abortion and contraception in these matters.

The problem is the sacralization of hierarchical viewsGeogetown has had a variety pf speakers that would be impossible at CU or for many of its graduates.Of course the SJS are under siege from the univocal viewed right "Catholics should all be on board on this."_.But they atr carryong on a tradition of helping to maintain and develop a mature and thoughtful Catholic population.BTW I think Jeanne is right -controling the message at the university level is counterproductive in this information age.

Here is the guideline that the bishops have given Catholic universities in this regard:The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.Seeking to honestly apply this guideline can't be easy. For example, I'd argue that Notre Dame's honoring President Obama a few years ago didn't indicate "support for [his] actions" in defying fundamental Catholic moral principles. Elsewhere on its site, the Newman Society slams Gonzaga for inviting Archbishop Desmond Tutu(!) for speaking at a commencement ceremony. It was news to me that Tutu is pro-abortion, but that is not what made him world-renowned, and it's a safe bet that it's not why the college wants to honor him. Comparing Georgetown's Sebelius invitation to Notre Dame's Obama invitation might be instructive. Both public figures are certain to arouse conservative ire; and both presumably have the support of large numbers of the faculty and student body. I would note this difference, though: When President Obama spoke at Notre Dame in 2009, he had been president only a few months. His chief accomplishment as president up to that point was the passage of the stimulus bill. I believe he was in the midst of engineering the GM bailout during that period. Both of those actions were somewhat controversial politically, but it would be difficult to argue that either one defied fundamental Catholic moral principles (and in fact it could easily be argued that both of them were in line with Catholic social principles). The same can't be said of Secretary Sebelius, though. She has been in her position for several years now, and during that time, she really has compiled a track record for actions that defy fundamental Catholic moral principles: she is responsible, legally and morally, for the contraception mandate. What's more, unlike President Obama, she is Catholic herself, and so should be held to a higher standard for not defying fundamental Catholic principles than a non-Catholic like President Obama.The timeline that Georgetown President DiGioia cites is important, but it doesn't give the complete picture. The administration had signaled months earlier that it was considering rules that were similar to those which eventually were enshrined in the contraception mandate. Georgetown might have waited another week or two before extending the invitation in order to learn what the policy would be; or it might have rescinded the invitation once it became clear what the Sebelius policy was. Just speaking for myself, I believe it's reasonable to expect Georgetown to abide by the guidelines given by the US bishops, and not give a platform to a speaker, especially a Catholic speaker, who has violated fundamental Catholic moral principles. My opinion is that this is a more difficult invitation for a university to defend than the Notre Dame invitation to President Obama in 2009.

After the controversy erupted over Sandra Fluke's public critique of Georgetown's medical insurance coverage for Georgetown students, President John DeGioia, the lay president of Georgetown University, publicly defended her right as a Georgetown law student to make her public critique of Georgetown. Good for him.So it is not exactly surprising that he did not intervene to stop the invitation to Secretary Sebelius when certain graduate students had indicated a preference to have her speak to them at Georgetown. Good for him.George Bernard Shaw famously quipped that a Catholic university is a contradiction in terms. However, at least in certain respects, President DeGioia is showing that that's not necessarily true.

Sandra Fluke's invitation to speak was from Congress while the invitation to Secretary Sebelius was from Georgetown University. So how exactly is one similar to the other?Another view from inside Georgetown

Grant Gallicho: See below:1. Fr. Schall explains the significance of the invitation to Secretary Sebelius.2. The HHS mandate was promulgated in August 2011 as an interim final rule and issued as a final rule on January 12, 2012 with very little change.3. The USCCB protested the interim final rule in August 2011.4. There can be no doubt that Secretary Sebelius is in the words Professor Richard Garnett a down-the-line abortion-rights supporter, who has sought out and worked hard to merit the support (financial and otherwise) from abortion-rights groups. BTW, Georgetown President DeGioia presumably an eminently well-informed person invited Secretary Sebelius, not the students.1. What is an Honorary Award?by James V. Schall, S.J., 5/15/12 A statement by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius August 2011, the Department of Health and Human Services issued an interim final rule that will require most health insurance plans to cover preventive services for women including recommended contraceptive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or a deductible. After evaluating comments, we have decided to add an additional element to the final rule. Nonprofit employers who, based on religious beliefs, do not currently provide contraceptive coverage in their insurance plan, will be provided an additional year, until August 1, 2013, to comply with the new law. Employers wishing to take advantage of the additional year must certify that they qualify for the delayed implementation. This additional year will allow these organizations more time and flexibility to adapt to this new rule. 3. USCCB Urges Rescission of HHS Contraceptive Mandate, Criticizes Inexplicably Narrow Definition of Religious Freedom August 31, 2011 Rebooting the Sebelius discussionby Rick Garnett, 3/5/09

It happens every spring here or there. If it's not the students or the faculty or the donors or the parents, it's the Newman Society. A university is doing well if it can Commence without controversy four years out of five. Oh, well, pretty soon they'll just send out the degrees as tweets.

Michael J. KellyI sincerely doubt that the President invited Kathleen Sebelius. The speakers for these ceremonies are invited by the respective Deans of the schools, institutes, or programs sponsoring them. If the ruling of August 2011 would not be finalized until January 2012 how was anyone to know what the january 2012 ruling would look like in August of 2011?

She was, after all, asked to stop receiving communion in 2008. By Jesus?No, by Joseph Naumann, Bishop of Kansas City, Kansas.And before Naumann told Sebelius to stay away from Communion, as vicar general in St. Louis, he told Catholic school kids not to attend an address by the President of the United States.

The problem comes down to defining fundamental Catholic moral principles. I think a case can be made that fundamental Catholic moral principles can be used to justify, not ban, contraception. This would clearly be in line with the sense of the faithful. So if and when the hierarchy comes around to such a point of view, it may in large part be because of Catholic universities. So I see no harm in the support of intellectual freedom, which may involve hearing points of view different than yours, and rationally responding to them (as opposed to promulgating). The papacy and hierarchy have yet to give a reasoned rebuttal to the recommendations of the papal commission on birth control, which unlike Humanae Vitae, argued in favor of lifting the ban on birth control.

I just want to add that I believe Georgetown is taking this issue seriously and is not simply shrugging the shoulders and saying "Well it is that time of year and this year it is our turn." Those who want to espouse conspiracy theories like George see what they want to see. I hardly think anyone involved in the decision to invite Kathleen Sebelius sat down and began to plot out how to undermine the bishops or stick a finger in their collective eye. And I hardly think that allowing Sebelius to speak amounts to declaring war on the bishops. The rhetoric is astounding.

Kathy --You over-simplify gravely: performing or consenting to an abortion is one thing metaphysically, absolutely. Tolerating an Abortion for sufficient reason (e.g, to avoid even more abortions) is metaphysically. Absolutely something else.I don't intend to argue the wider issue here -- I'm only pointing out your gross over-simplification.

Why no one needs to take Fr. Schall's analysis of the situation all that seriously: "A bureaucrat, speaking at a Catholic university, has proposed, in effect, shutting down most Catholic charitable and educational organizations unless they agree to support programs that are contrary to reason and faith."

As someone whose idea of a Catholic university can accomodate speakers as varied as Sebelius, Obama, Ryan and Cheney, I disagree with those who would, unintentionally, lionize Secretary Sebelius and her views by attempting to ban them. At the same time I don't think it is a huge stretch to *understand* why other Catholics might strongly disagree.But given the derisive tone of this post and many of the comments, I'm out of step. Apparently the views of culturally conservative Catholics are not only beneath contempt but also well beyond sympathetic understanding. In this regard David Nickol's comment at 10:25 am is a particularly welcome tonic.

In a sphere of serious human activity far older than Christianity, Rule 1 if you wish to prevail is "Know the Enemy". What could be more educational in preparation for conflict than for those with well-developed intellectual, moral, and spiritual foundations to listen to her face-to-face? Listening only to those who reconfirm one's prior convictions may be heartwarming but provides little help in dealing with the world outside the walls, where most don't share those convictions.

Ann,I doubt that the moral nuancing you suggest would be very comforting to the one who is being aborted to save the many. And I don't understand how that would work, that aborting one person helps anyone else to not be aborted. And in any case Catholic moral theology doesn't allow anyone to commit absolute moral wrongs because of a presumed good object.

Georgetown might want to provide a list of speakers supporting the Bishops' position who have been invited to the Georgetown campus. E. J. Dionne is a core faculty member of the Public Policy Institute. Are there any core faculty members of the PPI who support the Bishops' position? If not, what are the diversity bureaucrats doing?

Mike McG: I see you're back to share your overriding sense that when conservatives come in for criticism here it's because the critics have nothing but contempt for their views. You're overreacting. I don't know anyone who doesn't understand why some conservatives would object to a Catholic university's decision to provide a platform to Sebelius. This post was about George's presumptuous interpretation of the events, and DeGioia's correction.

If the bisjops' "guidelines" are a power.control approach (as seen happen in other circumstances) I don't think it's sticking a finger in their eye to say our universities have a broader and better way to develop matureCatholics.As to cultural conservative catholics, if in fact they're demeaned, it may be (though they think ot impossible) that the shoe indeed fits.

Kathleen Sebelius gave a brief talk at the first Commonweal dinner in NY a few years ago (pre-Obama) when Mark Shields was the main speaker. I think there were some of us in the audience who wondered why a woman of such intelligence -- and a way with people -- was not being groomed as a potential Democratic candidate).

Thousands of words on subjects like this including Obama speaking at Notre Dame show moral vacuity as they miss the more important issues of the day. Faint is the criticism of the banks and zero is the blasting of big oil. If today's news, about big Oil forcing deaths of oil workers by demanding that they drive back to the Oil facility after working 12-20 hours, were about contraception, abortion or same sex marriage right wing Catholics would be strident in their clamor of opposition. Ditto for the malfeasance of the banks in continuing derivatives which even those who sell them do not know what they are. We should speak out for the Oil workers who were literally driven to their deaths and all those who lost their retirement income. But, I guess, it was not contraception, abortion or same sex marriage.

Either you believe, based on Scripture or Tradition or plain history of the Church, that one of the Faithful may in good conscience dissent from the teachng(s) of apope or bishop(s), or you don't believe that. If one does believe that, then it makes perfect sense to have dissenters present AND argue their positions at Catholic universities. This assumes, of course, that the official teachings will also be presented fairly -- and if the official teaching is truly strong, then it will prevail. A Church that teaches truth has nothing to fear!The sure way to lose the minds and hearts of college students is to duck controversy.

Nicholas Clifford: I'm not sure what you mean by groomed.However, Kathleen Sebelius was born on May 15, 1948. So if President Obama wins re-election in 2012, she would still be young enough to become a Democratic presidential candidate in 2016.

Katgy--Calling the distinction between performance and toleration a "nuance" Makes it neither morally trivial nor irrelevant. And, come off it, you're quite good at philosophy when you want to be, and no doubt you know it, So you don't fool me. "nuaned" indeed.

OoPs. -- Kathy. It's the damn iPhone spell checker tgat did it. (Steve Jobs' standards were not cquite perfect.)

The misnamed Cardinal Newman Society seems able to get you progressive academics and Catholic colleges riled up every year defending what needs no defense. Why not use the guerrilla chiefs answer to Robert Jordan in For Whom the Bell Tolls... "I will not provoke.. Ingles' "

It just seems to me that the earth has shifted beneath the feet of the Catholic church. Fifty or 100 years ago, there was a broad moral/cultural consensus, which the church, mostly, affirmed. Particularly on sex-related questions, from contraception to abortion to same sex marriage to living together outside of marriage, the culture as a whole, including prominent public figures, adhered to more or less the same moral code that the church does. In such a situation, a Catholic university could invite a prominent person, whether a politician or an academic or a business tycoon or a member of the clergy of virtually any Christian denomination, and expect that those prevailing values would be reinforced. Not only the content of the talk would reinforce them; the very presence of that prominent, successful person at the podium would itself be a reinforcement.In the last generation or so, the world has moved on these issues while the church has stayed rooted to traditional moral values. Consequently, the church, without moving at all, now finds itself in an increasingly countercultural position. Perhaps it is no longer sufficient to pick a prominent person and recite her bio before turning over the microphone to her. The underlying expectation can no longer unthinkingly be made that the speaker will reinforce the same values that the church teaches. There is no cultural consensus anymore on sexual morality. We're sharply divided. And an institution unavoidably makes a moral statement by who it invites to speak to its graduates.

Patrick Malloy --Good idea! Or even better, have E.j. And Sibelius have a scholastic disputation -- present their own sids then refute -- if they can-- the other's side. That might help the hierarchy understandzwahat a Catholic university is. In fact. It might be a good lesson for many American universities where dissent is no longer appreciated as a necessary, if unPlrasant, means to more truth and to more accurate knowledge.

Grant Gallicho: Albert Ellis coined the term "catastrophizing" to refer to the tendency to see certain situations as catastrophes.In the statement that you quoted from Fr. Schall, he is catastrophizing. Secretary Sebelius did not propose shutting down anything. But Fr. Schall sees her as having "proposed, in effect, shutting down most Catholic charitable and educational institutions." For him, she has "in effect" proposed a catastrophe. So he's catastrophizing.

Nice piece by Fr. Schlegel on "Of Many Things" in the new print America -talking baout Catholic higher education in the Jesuit approach."is rooted in a spirituality that affirms human dignity and expresses the idea that, to quote Gerard Manley Hopkins, S.J.""the world is charged with the grandeur of God."...The Jesuit idea of finding God in all things presupposes a genuine regard for the mystery within the universe and the mystery within the human person. Consequently, the university must be a place of disciplinary mastery, intellectual honesty, pluralism and mutual respect as students reflect on the abiding questions ofthe meaning of life, moral behavior, and the conduct of human affairs."Developing maturity indeed - but it strikes me that the bishops' guidelines are primarily notions of indoctrination.I think they are SO invested in their teaching perrogative they are seen as proclaimers of SOSO and are their own worse enemies.Last week we received the new Fordham magazine - excellent letters from the work young folks did at pS 175 in Harlem which I recal lfrom my old days and, even later, I recall the work that Fordham law school students did at Scared heart in Highbridge -one of the poorest comunities in New york.I see jJesuit education sparking lots of reasl ministry that can't help but be attractive in a woprld where a quartee of our young have no religion ties.Jim's right -the world has changed, but it seems the Church (in its policy makers) has gone backward.I guess you could say that's countercultutal, but that term may also be pejotative.Discussion of values should be centered in the Word of God amd how well they're particulatized historically is not a subject of indoctrination, or so it seems, if we really want to reach and retain our young.

Jim Pauwels: Many of the points that you make in your message @1:28 pm are generally accurate.However, I would question your point about "a member of the clergy of any Christian denomination" speaking at a Catholic university.When I was an undergraduate at Saint Louis University, the Jesuit university in St. Louis, Missouri, the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, spoke on campus on Monday afternoon, October 12, 1964, as part of the lecture series sponsored by the student government. (Dr. King was in St. Louis to deliver a major address in the evening elsewhere in St. Louis that had nothing to do with SLU.)Afterward, the Jesuit Executive Vice President of SLU told me that Dr. King's presentation at SLU was the first time that a Baptist minister had ever been allowed to speak on a Jesuit campus. I have not been able to verify that claim. But even informed older Jesuits have allowed that it is probably true, because it was not customary for Jesuits to allow non-Catholic clergy to speak on Jesuit campuses before the Second Vatican Council.But I would be interested in hearing what other people might have to say about non-Catholic clergy being allowed to speak at Catholic universities before the Second Vatican Council.

David Nickol is exactly right: the invitation to Sibelius would have been inflammatory even before the HHS mandate. After the HHS mandate, it boggles the mind. A Lutheran friend mentioned the invitation yesterday, because he could not believe it. How, he wondered, could a Catholic university make Kathleen Sibelius a commencement speaker? A very good question, to which Georgetown has yet to provide a convincing answer.

ThorinShe is not a commencement speaker and President DeGioia has provided a reasonable explanation of how this came about. You can read it in Grant's post above.

"Why no one needs to take Fr. Schalls analysis of the situation all that seriously"Just curious if you were even inclined to, Grant?

Thorin: Read Alan C. Mitchell's message @9:02 am. Secretary Sebelius has not been invited to be a commencement speaker. She is not speaking at the commencement ceremony.But she has been invited to speak at a separate awards ceremony for certain graduate students at Georgetown.I suppose that she could still be dis-invited. But I hope that she is not dis-invited.

Jim P. --You seem to think that tge function of a Cathlic unni ersity is to "reinforce" the biefs of ot students. This, I think, is a far cry from the project of the medieval unversities which was to exten knowledge and correctprior mistakes.The differences are truly fundamental. As I seeit, it was the medieval schools which produced such giants as Anselm, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Scotus, and, yes, Ockham, followed by Vitoria and Suarez and the Jesuits in the tradition of the latter twoYou also seem to think that 50 years ago the Church was a monolith. What was monolithic were the local churches of many American mmigrant groups. In europe diversity was always present though more or less subdued. See Fance and Italy, for instance.My problemmwith American conservative Catholics is tgat they (you) claim to be the orthodox, when in fact therre has not been unanimity on all the issues you claim there is. You are not the Traditionalists that you claim you are. And that includes several recent popes. Either you admit that a pope can be wrong, or you don't, if you do, then there will ^always^ be room for dissent. Face it. Or your alternative is to accept that popes can never err.

Actually, Josh--sorry, Jeff--yes. But no one is obliged to accept his gross distortion of fact.

I will have to admit thatalthough I wondered if the invitation to Sebelius had been made long agountil I found out that it was made before the controversy over the contraceptive mandate, I wondered if Robert George wasn't correct in interpreting it as a deliberate affront to conservatives. (Perhaps I have caught a touch of conservative paranoia from spending too much time on other blogs!)But even if liberals weren't plotting deliberate affronts, they must have known how an invitation to Sebelius would have been viewed and interpreted by conservatives and pro-lifers. Now, I suppose an argument could be made that they shouldn't let themselves be influenced by such things, but it's not as if conservatives and pro-lifers don't have a point. Sebelius was clearly out of step with the Catholic Church as a governor. It is difficult to argue that she is merely controversial. She has been and continues to work against the teachings of the Church. George Bernard Shaw famously quipped that a Catholic university is a contradiction in terms. I think he was absolutely right! There is an inevitable tension in a Catholic university, it seems to me, that can never really be reconciled.

"There is no cultural consensus anymore on sexual morality."Don't worry Jim, those JP II priests are all over masturbation.

Prof. Mitchell,I am sorry for saying Sibelius will be a commencement speaker. Apparently, she will only be a speaker at an awards ceremony during commencement week. Feel free to enlighten me on why that distinction is important.I read Georgetown's explanation for its actions, and was not persuaded. I read that the students wanted Sibelius to speak to them. If the students wanted David Duke to speak to them, would Georgetown agree? I read further that Sibelius was invited before the HHS mandate. If a previously invited speaker to Georgetown had, for example, declared that welfare recipients should be involuntarily sterlized following the invitation to speak but before the speech, would Georgetown still have that person speak?I also read in Georgetown's statement that Sibelius has a "long and distinguished record of public service." Sibelius' service as governor of Kansas included repeatedly vetoing anti-abortion legislation, including legislation directed at late-term abortions. Her record as governor also included receiving financial support and endorsements from Planned Parenthood and late-term abortionist George Tiller, the latter of whom Sibelius invited to the governor's mansion. Sibelius' support for abortion was so egregious that she was told not to receive Communion by her bishop. Georgetown may see all of this as part of a "long and distinguished record of public service," but I do not.

David Nickol: The powers that be at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute (GPPI) allowed Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin speak at the GPPI. So why would the powers that be at the GPPI not be willing to allow Secretary Sebelius to speak at an awards ceremony at the GPPI for GPPI students receiving awards and others?

Grant Gallicho: It is outrageous for you to allow Thorin to liken inviting Secretary Sebelius to speak, to inviting David Duke to speak.Please delete Thorin's message, Grant Gallicho, as you have deleted all or part of my messages that contained nothing nearly so outrageous as Thorin's reference to David Duke.

Thomas Farrell --If you want your kids to understand just how odious David Duke is, then invite him to speak in your parish. But be prepared to answer him with counter-arguments. You know, just like the medieval theologians (even the giants like Aquinas) did at public gatherings.What are you afraid of? That Duke can't be countered? Or are your kids so mentally fragile they can't handle a strong argument?

"You seem to think that the function of a Catholic university is to reinforce the beliefs of its students. "Not the students, Ann, the students' *parents* :-)But I can question the wisdom of inviting a commencement speaker (or whatever sort of speaker she's invited to be) without calling into question the function of a university. In your view, does the bishops' guidelines cut against the function of a Catholic university? And do you agree that whom the university invites is itself a moral statement by the university? Isn't the invitation an implicit statement to the effect of, "students and their families, now attend, because here is someone who has accomplished something worthy and admirable, and who will now share wisdom with us"?

Thomas F - that is quite an interesting anecdote about Dr. King. It's somewhat surprising to me (I graduated from Loyola in Chicago in the mid '80's) to learn that a non-Catholic member of the clergy would have been out of bounds for the Jesuits as recently as (I assume) the early to mid '60's. By my undergraduate days, I'm sure there wouldn't have been an issue, and in fact I once heard one of Dr. King's children speak at Loyola - although whether or not he was a member of the clergy, I don't recall now.

Ann - regarding the word "orthodox" - if I ever style myself so, I hope you or someone will whack me upside the head. I really don't like that term as it is applied to Catholics, for several reasons, and I don't think of myself as a person who describes herself as "orthodox" seems to. I try to be faithful. (And, naturally, I don't always succeed).

Thomas Farrell,Surely you are not saying that Paul Ryan is as notorious for defying the Catholic Church as Secretary Sebelius, are you? Paul Ryan's budget is certainly debatable, and I am glad there was a debate, but Sebelius is clearly in serious dissent with Church teaching if not in outright opposition. To many pro-lifers, it is being overly kind to Sebelius to compare her to David Duke.

"She has been and continues to work against the teachings of the Church." Can you be more specific, David?

Grant:to be honest, your certainty that Prof. George is wrong seems also overly self-confident (I will not use the word presumptuous because I find it unnecessarily polemical). Ms. Sebelius has been for many years a symbol of defiance of Church teachings, due to her extreme pro-choice record first as Governor and the as HHS secretary. After all, it still very rare that a US bishop ask (privately) a politician to refrain from Communion. I am firmly convinced that no informed person could have invited her to Georgetown without knowing that this would be perceived a serious provocation against the authority of the bishops.In other words, Prof. George is accusing the leadership of GU of being wilful and shrewdly hostile to the bishops. You are implicitly accusing them of being utterly clueless and uniformed. I am not sure you are helping them that much...

George presumed a motive for which he had no evidence. The definition of presumptuous. The bishops do not have authority over Georgetown, which is a Jesuit university. Catholic University is another matter. The students who decided to invite Sebelius to address them did so not because of her prochoice views, but because she was instrumental in expanding health coverage to millions of uninsured Americans. That she issued an initially objectionable contraception mandate, followed by a less objectionable proposal, does not render her unacceptable as a speaker--especially when she's not receiving an honorary degree. Catholics--university administrators or not--are not obliged to agree with the bishops' prudential judgment on matters of public policy.

Jim P. --Sorry. I can't find the bishops' statement. But, yes, I think it is not consonant with the great tradition of Catholic universities which required that all.voices be heard and tgen answeree-- if possible. See Fr. Malloy's article on the medievalUnversity recommended above. The ancients saw the value of being challenged. Thexcurrent ones don't. Second, to invite someone to speak is not to apprOve of or agree with that person in toto, nor even in part. Nor is it necessarily a moral statement. It does imply that the speaker has something imPortant to say. No, important does not always mean true. It jst means we ^ought^to listen. Parents might want to hear a lot of blathwr, but it is not the function of universities to deal in blather.The fact is that there are some honorable peoPle wbo have profoundly different views from those of the Church. But they still need to be listened to. Benedict seems to Have realized this See his Courts of the Gentiles . Too bad our bishops are still 800 years behind. They don't even seem to have read Newman. Pity.

Grant Gallicho:1. Re: Statement by Georgetown President DeGioia: In early January, an invitation was extended to Secretary Sebelius and she accepted. In the weeks that followed, elements of the legislation, specifically terms covering contraception, dominated our public discourse and impacted our Georgetown community very directly.In different contexts over the past three months, including a March 14 Statement on Religious Freedom and HHS Mandate, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops expressed strong opposition to the position put forward by the Obama Administration. Some have interpreted the invitation of Secretary Sebelius as a challenge to the USCCB. It was not. The invitation to Secretary Sebelius occurred prior to the January 20th announcement by the Obama Administration of the modified healthcare regulations.The statement is disingenuous. So what that the invitation was issued before January 20th, and that it has been opposed by the USCCB since then? It was proposed in August 2011 and opposed by the USCCB at that time. In view of the fact that the HHS contraception mandate would directly and seriously impact Georgetowns insurance coverage policies it is preposterous to believe DeGioia was not aware before January 20th of the near finality of the August 2011 mandate proposal. Robert Georges comment was not the least bit presumptuous. 2. Re: Why no one needs to take Fr. Schalls analysis of the situation all that seriously: A bureaucrat, speaking at a Catholic university, has proposed, in effect, shutting down most Catholic charitable and educational organizations unless they agree to support programs that are contrary to reason and faith. and no one is obliged to accept his gross distortion of fact.: Your dismissal of Fr. Schalls analysis need not be taken seriously especially in view of your pro-Obama activism. (BTW, hows it looking for the 2012 Catholic Advisory Committee?)But no one is obliged to ignore your head-in-the-sand denial of the impact of the HHS contraception mandate if enforced. See Contraception rule could lead to $100 fines, Hill report says:( what, exactly, is the or else in the Obama administrations contraception coverage mandate?House Republicans asked the Congressional Research Service to look into it, and now theyre blasting out the answer they got. According to the research service, insurers and employers that do not comply with the contraception coverage rule could face federal fines of $100 per day per employee.But it may not take federal action to enforce the mandate, according to the CRS memo released Tuesday by the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Individual beneficiaries may also be able to sue their health plans if they do not fulfill the requirement that all contraceptives be fully covered. If a group health plan or health insurance issuer failed to provide contraceptive services pursuant to guidelines authorized by ACA, it seems possible ... that a plan participant could be able to bring a claim for that benefit, the memo states.If the federal government were to take action against noncompliant employers or insurers, the memo details how enforcement powers are divided between the Department of Labor, the IRS and HHS.The Department of Labor has jurisdiction over secular employers, so it could take action against a business owner who tried to deny contraception coverage to his employees. But the IRS has jurisdiction over what are known as church plans that also cover employers like religious charities and universities.According to the report, the IRS is empowered to levy a tax penalty on noncompliant religious employers of $100 per day for each employee in their health plan.The House Energy and Commerce Committee said that could add up quickly. If a charity or hospital with 100 employees chooses to exercise its religious rights instead of complying with the Obamacare mandate, it could be subject to a $3.65 million annual fine, the committee said in its release. See also, Statement on the HHS Mandate by Rev. Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., President of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars ( )

No, George presumed motive. In August the rule was a draft. I opposed the final draft they rolled out in January--more psy-ops from an Obama schill, no doubt. Can you explain how the accommodation violates the religious freedom of Catholic institutions? I mean: Can you? Not your link-pals.

Ann:"The fact is that there are some honorable people wbo have profoundly different views from those of the Church."What do you make of honorable people who have profoundly different views from those of the Church and claim to be Catholic? Is that not an implicit statement, essentially, that the teaching authority of the Church is bogus and anybody can fashion his/her own Christianity as he/she pleases?

Grant Gallicho: "The bishops do not have authority over Georgetown, which is a Jesuit university."Alan Mitchell: "People do not understand how universities like Georgetown and Notre Dame are organized and run. They are separately incorporated, so that the religious orders that established them no longer control them."It would seem to follow that the Jesuits have no authority over Georgetown.A Jesuit (word of honor) recently told me: "Georgetown aspired to become the Catholic Harvard; it's become the secular Notre Dame."

Jesuits could withdraw their sponsorship. Of course, doing so over the Sebelius invitation would signal an embarrassing lack of confidence.

Professor George, Michael J Kelly, Carlo Lancellotti and Fr. Imbelli need to refresh themselves on the meaning of calumny if they cannot back up their claims with hard evidence.

Fr. ImbelliThe situation at BC is no different than at Georgetown. The Jesuits control neither university. BC's president does not answer to the Society of Jesus but to his board. BTW who is speaking at the BC Law School commencement? Your anecdote from a Jesuit is meaningless. It is his opinion of Georgetown not fact. Maybe the same could be said if BC. Do you think that would make it true?

Carlo --You seem to think that the teaching authority of the Church exists only in the current pope and bishops. Not so. All popes and bishops have authority AND it can be used both wisely and badly. The teaching authority of the Church is not some magic power which prevents error. And so as long as popes and bishops can be wrong, they may be challemged if there is good reason to. And in the coirse of Church history some teachings have been revrsed.It would be comfortable to think that our finite understandings of God's revelation is completely true. But it seems that God hasn't planned it that way.

Carlo-- I should add that, no, this certainly doesn't make the authority of the Church bogus any more than the fact that scientists can make mistakes makes scientific authority bogus. The Holy Spirit is with the Church to help it in its deliberations, whi h certainly gives us a lot of confidence that we are probably on the right track so long as we -- espevially the bishops -- are honest and open to self-correction,

Professor Mitchell,your retort: "Your anecdote from a Jesuit is meaningless. It is his opinion of Georgetown not fact. Maybe the same could be said if [sic] BC. Do you think that would make it true?", brought to mind the memorable title of an earlier post here at dotCom: "So's your mother."Of course, my informant's words represent "his opinion." But that itself is far from "meaningless;" especially since it was said to represent not his opinion alone. To establish "the facts" would take a prolonged and pacific discernment which would not be aided by defensiveness. A starting point might be to ask whether Georgetown's faculty heartily endorses President DeGioia's assertion cited above: "As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings."

"secular Notre Dame"Ouch.

The Archdiocese of Washington responds to DeGioia's letter:

Statement of the Archdiocese of Washington Regarding the Selection of U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius as a Featured Speaker at Georgetown UniversityMay 15, 2012During the past week there has been much in the national and local news regarding the controversial selection of the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, to be a featured speaker at an awards ceremony at Georgetown Universitys Public Policy Institute. Yesterday, the President of the University, John J. DeGioia, issued a public statement in response to the concerns, objections and even outrage that have been expressed.The Archdiocese of Washington reserved public comment to permit Georgetown University and its sponsor, the Society of Jesus, the opportunity to address the controversy. While the explanation of how this unfortunate decision was made is appreciated, it does not address the real issue for concern the selection of a featured speaker whose actions as a public official present the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history and the apparent lack of unity with and disregard for the bishops and so many others across the nation who are committed to the defense of freedom of religion.Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University Presidents statement, the fundamental issue with the HHS mandate is not about contraception. As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom. Secretary Sebelius mandate defines religious ministry so narrowly that our Catholic schools and universities, hospitals and social service ministries do not qualify as religious enough to be exempt. This redefinition of religion penalizes Catholic organizations because they welcome and serve all people regardless of their faith. Ironically, because of Georgetowns commitment to open its doors to Catholic and non-Catholic students alike, the university fails to qualify as a religious institution under the HHS mandate. Given the dramatic impact this mandate will have on Georgetown and all Catholic institutions, it is understandable that Catholics across the country would find shocking the choice of Secretary Sebelius, the architect of the mandate, to receive such special recognition at a Catholic university. It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops. It is especially distressing to think that the universitys Public Policy Institute would be unaware of this national debate since the mandate was published last August. Such a radical redefining of ministry should prompt Georgetown, as a Catholic and Jesuit university, to do more to challenge the mandate and speak up for freedom of religion.

Ann:my question was about Sebelius, not Church authority. You described her as a honorable person disagreeing with Church authorities. I was wondering if you draw a line anywhere where one can aggressively deny and oppose Church teaching and still call oneself a Catholic without being hypocritical and insincere.

Robert: You suggest that if "the Jesuits" had authority over Georgetown, they'd rescind the invitation to Sebelius. It sounds as though your "informant" -- intriguing term -- has served as a provincial. Where he was provincial would matter, of course, to one's assessment of his expertise. I wonder if he takes the Sebelius invitation as sufficient evidence of Georgetown's secularism. Do you?

Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University Presidents statement, the fundamental issue with the HHS mandate is not about contraception. As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom.

What baloney. DeGioia's statement says that controversy arose from "elements of the legislation, specifically terms covering contraception." Which is true, and not at all "contrary" to what the bishops have been saying. That the bishops (and others) objected on freedom-of-religion grounds to the narrow HHS exemption for religious institutions that was part of those terms is also true, but DeGioia doesn't say otherwise. Failure to repeat all the arguments or use all the words the bishops would have you use is not the same thing as disagreeing with the bishops. Why does that need clarifying so often?

Father ImbelliI would have welcomed a more reasoned response to what I wrote instead of histrionic derision.You seem now to be saying that since your "informant's" opinion is shared by another it is therefore true. I fail to see the logic of that statement.You are unable to establish facts for your opinion or his or theirs and so if your intention was to spread falsehood so as to damage the reputation of Georgetown your calumny stands.

(Grant and Mollie: What about a thread on the op-ed in the NYT this morning? Bishops' abuse of nuns is nothing new. )

Grant,I nowhere suggest that "if the Jesuits had authority over Georgetown, theyd rescind the invitation to Sebelius."My point was simply that neither the Bishops nor the Jesuits have "authority" over Georgetown contrary to what seemed to be your implication @7:29. And I cited Alan Mitchell's comment as corroboration.If "informant" is too great a stumbling block, read: "dialogue partner."Professor Mitchell,I regret that my invitation to "discernment" is deemed to be "histrionic derision." I thought it in the best tradition of the "least Society."I would genuinely care for your considered "opinion" regarding my final question.

the selection of a featured speaker whose actions as a public official present the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history As far as I am concerned, the Archdiocese of Washington just shot itself in the foot. The issue of whether the contraceptive mandate is an unwarranted infringement on religious liberty is a political and constitutional issue. The Catholic Church may have a strong opinion about that, but it strikes me it is a matter of politics and constitutional law, and the Catholic Church has no special expertise in these areas. If the controversy is not over contraception or abortion, but over what authority the Obama administration and the Secretary of HHS have to implement rules, then I don't see how the Archdiocese of Washington can object to the invitation of Sebelius. The Catholic Church would have a right, it seems to me, to object to the government promoting contraception whether or not its doing so is an infringement of religious freedom. Choosing to frame the matter in terms of religious liberty in America and violations of First Amendment rights puts the Archdiocese of Washington in the position of arguing how to interpret the constitution. They have a right to their opinion, but on the matter of interpreting the constitution, they have no authority to tell Georgetown what constitutional law is.

As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings.A brief addendum to my message above. The Archdiocese of Washington says, "Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University Presidents statement, the fundamental issue with the HHS mandate is not about contraception. As the United States Bishops have repeatedly pointed out, the issue is religious freedom." To the extent that the bishopsare speaking of religious freedom as guaranteed by the First Amendment," their statements have nothing to do with "traditional church teachings."

The Church defended religious liberty for over 1700 years before the Constitution and politics of the United States ever existed. Moreover, before this is an issue of Sebelius, it is an issue of Georgetown, its Catholicity (or lack thereof), and the fundamental right of students in a Catholic university to not be misled with respect to Catholic teaching or otherwise be robbed of their Catholic patrimony.

The Church defended religious liberty for over 1700 years before the Constitution and politics of the United States ever existed. Bender,What alternate universe are you living in? The Church didn't even endorse religious liberty until 1965.

I am sorry to see all the division in this thread but it's indicative of the problem that we see in not only this thread, but E.J.Dionne's on staying catholic and on the discussion on gay marriage evolution,The Public Research Institutte and the Berkley Center for Religion,Peace and World Affairs at Georgetown note how our millenials hav edeparted from organized religion and large swaths see the Church as hypocritical and"anti-gay" and too involved in politics.The Archdiocese (under the leadership of New Evangelism leader cardinal Wuerl) is doing what it thinks it has to do.The University on the ground with the young have a different perspective in trying to energize young minds to the faith.Dionne's plea IMO is to my generation and the last , who are trying to hang on despite the increasing lurches to the right by the hierarchs/curian and their psuedoapologetic for that.Arguments here like committed gay partners not understabnding "love" or not being able to succesfully raise children are seen as hollow and apriori and hence tending to be bigoted.All of this is wrapped in the continuing poltical stanc eof USCCB and the powers that be where instead of "religious liberty" the perception is trying to impose, do not rationally present their view, which many find unconvincing to say the least.I think : We are in danger of losing a large part of a generation (and their children thereafter) to a view not only unCatholic but seeing the Church as a force for bigotry and authoritarianism of the worse sort.We keep trying to make our higher education schools places of indoctrination, not real learning and that use of both policy and"juice" is counterproductive.Failure to engage/explain/dialogue offers a prognosis of not only further drift but departure from what is supposed to be a loving body of Christ.

One more thing while I'm at it:I'm tired of hearing that our clergy (all the way up the line) can be terrible people or wrong about how Notre dame football will do, but the Holy Spitit protects them whenever they talk about faith matters.That is hogwash and a big part of the divide as well.And the perception is that that unfortunate view must be imposed in the world of higher learning.

David N - I don't see why you think the church has no standing to talk about religious liberty. The church is a stakeholder in religious liberty: it depends on religious liberty in the US in order to carry out its religious mission here. The church doesn't need to be a professor of constitutional law in order to understand that its religious liberty is being infringed.

I dont see why you think the church has no standing to talk about religious liberty.Jim,Of course the Church has "standing" to talk about religious liberty. What I said is that, insofar as the Church is claiming that the contraceptive mandate is a violation of First Amendment rights, the Church has no special expertise, since it is a matter of constitutional law, not Church teaching. If the bishops maintain that the contraceptive mandate violates their First Amendment rights, that is not "traditional Church teaching" (or Church teaching of any kind). It is the opinion of the bishops about a constitutional issue. Obviously they have a major stake in the issue. However, that does not mean they can speak authoritatively about what the constitution does or does not permit, and certainly they cannot expect a Catholic university to adopt their position on a constitutional issue or ban speakers who do not agree with the USCCB on a constitutional issue.

In his first extended local television interview since being elevated to Cardinal in February, Dolan said the Church is prepared to take the battle all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. In an interview on "PIX 11 News Closeup," the Cardinal was asked directly if he would say the President was in violation of the amendment that protects religious institutions' freedoms, and he replied, "I would."That amendment states, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibit the free exercise thereof." He said the issue over the administration's mandate to require employers, including religious groups, to provide contraception insurance coverage for employees "is morally toxic and an intrusion into the internal life of the Church."He continued, "The government, for the first time, is attempting to say what a church and and can't do. That bothers us." And he declared, "It's not about contraception, not about a Catholic issue. It's not about partisan politics. This is a radical violation of the First Amendment." . . . Asked whether the Church was prepared to take the matter to the U.S. Supreme Court, which has had a Catholic majority since 2006, Dolan, who serves not only as the Archbishop of New York, but as well as the President of the U.S. Conference of Bishops, said, "I think we are going to have to. What recourse does any citizen have. You can go to the Executive Branch. We tried that and unfortunately we're not making much progress. You can go to the Congress, which we are doingSo what's our recourse, like any other citizen that feels aggrieved, we go to the Judiciary, and I don't think we'll be reluctant to do that."

It is a matter of dispute whether the contraceptive mandate is unconstitutional. Cardinal Dolan and the USCCB can argue to whatever extent they wish, but they can't require Catholics to accept a constitutional argument or discriminate against those who disagree with the bishops about whether or not the contraceptive mandate is constitutional. The bishops, it seems to me, would be on perfectly solid ground if they argued that Sebelius, as a Catholic, is wrong to promote contraception, even through perfectly legal and constitutional means. But as long as they are making a First Amendment argument, they have no authority to compel Catholics to agree with them.

Father ImbelliDiscernment is always good, but as you know, St. Ignatius prescribed rules for discernment which include total openness to the Spirit, through which honest examination of the matter to be discerned can occur in an unencumbered manner. There can be no pre-conditions or pre-judgments to interfere with the outcome of the discernment. That having been said, I wonder if in the present ecclesial climate genuine discernment can occur. We may discern all we want, but my impression of the hierarchy, from it statements and actions, is that it wants to be the final arbiter of any fruits of discernment. I do not believe that is a genuine discernment process because of the limitations it imposes on the Holy Spirit.

Bender (10:05am) -- "The Church defended religious liberty for over 1700 years " See the history of Europe from about 700 to 1800, with associated bloodshed and bloodless executions carried out on behalf of the Faith and the orthodoxy of the population. That will tell you about the Church's long-term stance on "religious liberty" as viewed by popes and their faithful allies and subordinates.

David N --This is not a metter of the bishops' right to their opinion. It is a matter of the bishops' right to religious freedom v. The President's duty to provide equal protection under the law to all. The arguable parts come in the specifics-- dos the mandate violate the bishops' religious rights? And does the President's duty to protect all in this case trump the bishops' de facto rights?The brouhaha is about BOTH the bishops' rights and the President's duty, as well as being about what the bishop's *say* is the *specific violation* of their rights, namely, being required to pay for contracetives, and it doesn't matter *whose* contraceptives they end up being. There are a number of issues implicit here that can be argued. But arguing about the obvious facts seems to me to be a smoke acreen and waste of time.

Professor Mitchell,Thank you for your last comment. I think it provides the basis for a conversation that we may be able to pursue further "in tempore opportuno." However, you know far better than I Ignatius' "First Rule" for thinking with the Church.

Father Imbelli,Thank you for your very interesting comments.

But arguing about the obvious facts seems to me to be a smoke acreen and waste of time.Ann,I am not sure whether you are agreeing or disagreeing with me, but all I am saying is that to the extent the bishops are making an argument about constitutional law, they are outside their area of expertise and authority. The USCCB has no authority to demand that Catholics support their view of the First Amendment. If faithful Catholics do not believe the contraceptive mandate violates the First Amendment right of Catholic organizations, the bishops have no authority to insist that those Catholics discard their own views and adopt the USCCB's. If the bishops want to make an argument about religious liberty as understood by the Catholic Church, then they are on solid ground. But there is no guarantee that Catholic thought and First Amendment jurisprudence will arrive at the same conclusion. If the bishops say, "We oppose this because it is unconstitutional," and the courts find it constitutional, the bishops will have lost.

The Church defended religious liberty for over 1700 years before the Constitution and politics of the United States ever existed. Bender,What alternate universe are you living in? The Church didnt even endorse religious liberty until 1965.I guess I'm living in the alternate universe of the Book of the Acts of the Apostles, where, despite being told by the authorities to shut up and do as the authorities told them to do, the Apostles and disciples continued to freely preach the Good News.And there is also the alternate universe that includes those events of about 1500 years before that when the People of God wanted the freedom to go and practice their faith, and their leader, together with God Himself, defended that fundamental right.

I'm also living in that alternate universe where St. Thomas More chose to follow God rather than the despotic tyrants Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell, whom King Barack and Kathleen Sebelius are trying their best to emulate.

I love selective readings of history! You can turn a sow's ear into a silk papal garment that way.

Im also living in that alternate universe where St. Thomas More chose to follow God rather . . . Bender,Then in your universe, I suppose Thomas More did not burn heretics at the stake. Or is executing heretics consistent with your views of religious liberty? Freedom for the Catholic Church to do what it wants is not "religious liberty." Forced conversions, torture and execution of heretics, and confining people to ghettoes is not religious liberty. It is just a fact that the Catholic Church opposed religious liberty until Vatican II.

One of the questions has been whether any Catholic institutions would actually terminate their health insurance plans because of the HHS Regulations requiring coverage of contraception. Some blogs are publicizing the decision of Francscan University to terminate its Student Health Plan in August. As Franciscan points out on its website, there were two issues involved in this - along with the contraceptive requirement, their existing plan had a low annual limit on expenses it would cover and meeting the HHS minimum coverage requirement would have increased he cost of the insurance. According to HHS, many colleges have had unrealistically low limits of coverage in their student policies. Although the minimum annual limit for an employee policy this year is $1.25 milion, HHS has set the minimum or student plans at $100,000 to provide a transitional year for student plans to catch up to the same level as employee plans.It seems possible that many colleges may stop offering student insurance now that HHS has determined that low-limit insurance is not the credible coverage which the law requires everyone to obtainThis may make it difficult to determine why a Catholic college has stopped offering student health insurance.

The Obama Administration has mandated that all health insurance plans must cover womens health services including contraception, sterilization, and abortion-causing medications as part of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Up to this time, Franciscan University has specifically excluded these services and products from its student health insurance policy, and we will not participate in a plan that requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.Additionally, the PPACA increased the mandated maximum coverage amount for student policies to $100,000 for the 2012-13 school year, which would effectively double your premium cost for the policy in fall 2012, with the expectation of further increases in the future.Due to these changes in regulation by the federal government, beginning with the 2012-13 school year, the University 1) will no longer require that all full-time undergraduate students carry health insurance, 2) will no longer offer a student health insurance plan, and 3) will no longer bill those not covered under a parent/guardian plan or personal plan for student health insurance. The current student health insurance plan will expire on August 15, 2012.

John Hayes - thanks for that very interesting report about Franciscan University.Here's how I would analyze the impact on students: students age 26 or lower who have insured parents may hope that their parents will include the students in their plans. Naturally, that presupposes that the parents are willing do to this.Students over age 26 don't have that option. Neither do students under age 26 whose parents are deceased. (Could another relative extend coverage to someone under the age of 26?) Neither do students whose parents are uninsured. Neither do students whose parents, for whatever reason, aren't willing to include them as beneficiaries.If my analysis is right, then this decision probably leaves some holes in the health care coverage safety net. I suppose that when the insurance exchanges have been stood up, there will be subsidy provisions there for individuals such as these students? But when will that be? A year or more after Steubenville's policy isn't renewed? If I were a student who falls through the cracks in this way, I suppose I'd need to get a job with benefits and figure out how to continue my schooling part-time.

"However, you know far better than I Ignatius First Rule for thinking with the Church."Bob Imbelli, This is a simplistic response to Alan Mitchell's nuanced explanation of discernment. We know that thinking with the church is more genuine when it is consonant with scripture as Rome has made some very serious blunders through the centuries.

David N.,I guess I am having a hard time figuring out why you think the Bishops are wrong to raise the religious liberty issue as a reason to disinvite Sebelius. If Georgetown had invited a politician who proposed a law that jailed priests for refusing to violate the seal of confession (but did not do so for lawyers or doctors or accountants who are protected by similar privileges) and the Bishops criticized the University for giving prominence to such a speaker, would that be outside of their expertise? Why is it wrong for the Bishops to say "Don't invite her, she has proposed a rule that has a disparate impact on the Church's mission."? Anyway, based on her testimony before the house committee, I would not want her to speak to students about how to properly fashion public policy, since she seemed not to care about how the relevant first amendment case law or RFRA applied to the proposed regulation and didn't even ask her legal counsel for a memo about it. Not a good example of how public policy should be development in a constitutional republic.

The USCCB has submitted 21 pages of comments to HHS. It clarifies what it wants HHS to do:

The simplest and best solution to the various problems described above is the one the Administration so far has declined to adopt: to rescind the mandate. Failing this, the Administration should provide an exemption that protects all stakeholders with a religious or moral objection, in keeping with the consistent language and longstanding tradition of federal conscience protection law. Either rescission or exemption would allow stakeholders that object to offering or purchasing contraceptive coverage to decline to do so, while allowing those who do not object to offering or purchasing such coverage to do so.

The use of "stakeholders" appears to refer back to this section, which encompasses any individual "with a moral or religious objection to contraceptive coverage."

any religious and other stakeholders with a conscientious objection to some or all of the mandated coverage are ineligible for either the exemption or the temporary enforcement safe harbor. These stakeholders will be subject to the mandate for plan or policy years beginning on or after August 1, 2012. The ANPRM does not even acknowledge this problem, least of all propose or allow for possible solutions to it. As a result, absent a change of course by the Administration or a court order granting relief, individuals, insurers, for-profit employers, and many other stakeholders with a moral or religious objection to contraceptive coverage will be required in the next few months either to drop out of the health insurance marketplace, potentially triggering crippling penalties, or to provide coverage that violates their deeply-held convictions. As discussed in our previous comments, we believe that the contraceptive mandate violates the religious and conscience rights of these stakeholders and is unlawful.

I guess I am having a hard time figuring out why you think the Bishops are wrong to raise the religious liberty issue as a reason to disinvite Sebelius.MikeD,My point is that the bishops should not base their argument on the First Amendment. The contraceptive mandate may be found to violate the First Amendment, but it may also be found constitutional by the courts. If we had no First Amendment, would the bishops have no objection to the contraceptive mandate? Regarding the seal of confession, there are a number of state laws that have mandatory reporting laws for child abuse that do not exempt clergy. I am assuming they are constitutional. That doesn't mean the Church has no argument against them.Let me put it this way. While it makes perfect sense for the bishops to fight the contraceptive mandate in the courts, their primary argument should be based on Catholic teaching and morality "higher law"not the First Amendment. There is real doubt among experts that the contraceptive mandate is unconstitutional by current standards. That is why people keep bringing up the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. If the contraceptive mandate is not unconstitutional, it may still violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. (Or it may not.) The bishops may be proven wrong if the contraceptive mandate is upheld by the courts. But they will still be against it, won't they? Their primary objection is not constitutional. It is moral. Let them make the moral argument as their primary argument. If they claim Sebelius is an objectionable speaker because she is promoting something unconstitutional, they may be proven wrong by the courts.

Jim Pauwels, leaving aside the contraception issue for the moment, Fox News reported that "fewer than 200" students bought the insurance (out of 2741, apparently) so my guess is that they realized the the student insurance they could buy for $600 per year wasn't adequate coverage.Since I live in Massachusetts, I'm used to having to fill out one more schedule to attach to my income tax form each year to prove that I have insurance that provides "minimum credible coverage." Requiring everyone to have insurance wouldn't accomplish much if there were no minimum standards for what the insurance would cover.

By comparison to Franciscan's $600, Boston College says:"The annual cost is $2,290. Your student account will be charged $1,050 for coverage from August 7, 2012, through January 6, 2013, and $1,240 for coverage from January 7, 2013, through August 6, 2013."

David,You said "While it makes perfect sense for the bishops to fight the contraceptive mandate in the courts, their primary argument should be based on Catholic teaching and morality higher lawnot the First Amendment." Do you mean their primary argument in public, or in court? They won't get very far in federal court by appealing to Catholic teaching and morality, not even with Justice Scalia. Anyway, I still think the Bishops could legitimately criticize a promoter of a law that negatively impacts the Church (e.g., alcohol prohibition w/o a communion exemption) and rely on religious liberty and constitutional law language to do so. The underlying morality of the law may also be an issue, but the impact on the Church may be their first concern and a reason why a catholic university should be in solidarity with the Bishops in opposing it and not honoring the law's primary promoter.

From this morning's NYT:Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said he knew that his groups protests were having an impact because his annual tally of Catholic universities with objectionable commencement speakers was down 50 percent, from a high of 24 in 2006. He said, We do now have colleges that will confidentially contact us and actually vet their speakers with us, because they want to make sure that there wont be concerns. would they do it "confidentially"? Why not be open with students, alumnae/i, potential students and parents about the need for this organization's approval? Why doesn't Commonweal publish the names of the Catholic colleges who allow this ultra-right-wing group to choose their speakers? Then parents and students can decide if those are schools they want to be associated with. A list of colleges who allow ultra-right-wing groups to recruit on their campuses would be useful, too.

Rest assured, well get to the bottom of this.---------I hope you do. I think you would be doing a service to Catholics to explain/reveal what's really going on. Why don't bishops require colleges and universities to explain/reveal who's vetting their admissions, their faculty hires, their curricula, their choices of speakers, etc. E.g., one of the advisors to the Cardinal Newman Society is John McCloskey, the famous Opus Dei priest. would be useful, also, for prospective students and their parents to be informed about the ultra-right-wing groups that are permitted to recruit on campus and that maintain residences for their recruits (often under bland names that do not make clear the true identity of the group).Alumnae/i might find it helpful, also, to know how far their Alma Maters have veered from the old ideals. When the annual call for donations comes, alumnae/i might explain to the student on the phone why there will be no further contributions.

Gerelyn -- My comment at 10:27am on Molly O'Reilly's adjacent post notes the fear and lack of confidence in the strength of Catholic people and positions that seem to underly the activity you are noting. Are both so weak and vulnerable that they cannot tolerate non-agreement in the world in which we live, where most disagree?

Gerelyn --That's the worst news I've heard about the universities in ages. In the original universities the professors were called "professors" because they were expected to profess -- boldly speak out -- their true opinions. By allowing someone outside the university to decide who shall speak there the administrations of those colleges have corrupted their schools.

I saw your comment, Jack, after I posted here. Sad that the noxious right-wing has brought the Church to heel. To the victors belong the spoiled.

Gerelyn, you're assuming that what Patrick Reilly told the Times about the significant but unverifiable success of his operation is true.

As far as I know, there is nothing in the Church's defined doctrine that specifies who may or may not speak at a Catholic college or university. There is nothing specific about it in the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The actions or opinions of certain bishops with regard to such speakers is not universal in the Church, and is apparently a matter of prudential judgment. Thus, the bishop's opinion on the matter is not binding on any college or university. Colleges and universities are encouraged to allow the bishop to "participate" in the life of the academic community with the clear stipulation that the bishop has no role to play in the internal governance of the institution. Practically speaking, of course, it is advisable to foster a healthy relationship between the local bishop and the colleges and universities in his diocese. That way difficult issues can be discussed and matters deemed problematic to the bishop can be resolved. Those bishops who have acted as though they have veto power over speakers at commencements or other functions, in my opinion, are acting outside of their authority. That is why most bishops speaking about such matters express themselves in terms of their "disagreement" or "disappointment." Since colleges and universities do not endorse the ideas or positions of the speakers who come to their campuses, I have always had a hard time seeing how any given speaker, notably one who may be in opposition to the official teaching of the RCC, compromises the Catholic identity of that institution. That notion seems to rest on a very weak understanding of Catholic identity, which extends to many more aspects of the university than simply the invitation of speakers to its campus.So in the matter of who speaks at Catholic colleges and universities I think reasonable people can disagree, but I hardly think it is a vital question. This is all the more the case when a few days after the speeches have been given very few people remember what was said. Creating a brouhaha over it only serves the increase the speaker's notoriety, just as silencing a theologian tends to sell his or her books.

Gerelyn, youre assuming that what Patrick Reilly told the Times about the significant but unverifiable success of his operation is true.------------ As the editor of an important and venerable publication, with sources all over the place, including in the White House, surely you can discover which (if any) colleges are craven enough to "confidentially" beg Patrick to vet their choices for commencement speakers. BLAST their names on the cover of a summer issue along with the names of the bishops under whose (right) wing they operate.

"Since colleges and universities do not endorse the ideas or positions of the speakers who come to their campuses, I have always had a hard time seeing how any given speaker, notably one who may be in opposition to the official teaching of the RCC, compromises the Catholic identity of that institution. "Alan - I think this gets to the heart of the issue. I don't know how wide the perception is that inviting a speaker is not an endorsement of the speaker. I suppose the Cardinal Newman Society's entire reason for existence rests on the assumption that such an invitation *is* an endorsement.Istm that many of the comments that defend a wide variety of viewpoints among speakers at colleges, including at commencement ceremonies, do so from an educational point of view. A college's mission is to educate; and part and parcel of education is to expose students to various and even conflicting ideas, in part to help them learn to reason and discern. In this way of viewing the situation, one might even think of a college as a sort of free marketplace of ideas, in which the college itself is somewhat neutral; its role is to provide the marketplace and help the students acquire knowledge and sharpen their critical thinking powers. By the time a student graduates, she should be able to sort and process them enough to know which ones are worthy.Istm that there is another way of thinking of colleges: as dispensers of wisdom. From this viewpoint, a college's mission is to share with students, not just *any* ideas, but the *best* ideas. And a Catholic college is expected to have a particularly Catholic viewpoint on what constitutes the best ideas. Folks who espouse this viewpoint may not embrace the free-marketplace ideas. They may not want the college to be neutral. They want the college to stand for, endorse and sponsor what is best.

I think our Jesuit colleges try to impart "wisdom:". Take a lok at Fr. Sclegel's piece in (banned from our Church library here) America.I don''t think expounding the magisterial de jour of episcopal initiatives should a priori be conceived of as "wisdom"/The there's the Steubenville approacgh -se the latest thread where you can happily discuss wisdom there.

I was somewhat surprised to find out that Fr. Williams has an agent: The agency has a Fifth Avenue address. I am also surprised that this page is still up on the web.Can the reason LC has not yet been suppressed is that it is still funneling $$$ to the Vatican?Is that why the Cardinal overseer kept the case under wraps when he found out about it last January?

Scratch that. I realized after I posted that the speaker's bureau is his publisher. Sorry.

My comment was supposed to be under David Gibson's LC post. Grant, can you delete the first part and move the rest to the right post? I apologize.

Using DeGioia's reasoning, he could have invited Hitler to speak, then simply have said:"Der Furor's presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of his views."Somehow, I think he would have thought that insufficient.

Jim P. ==Your philosophy of higher education assumes that in the best system each and every college would start with incontestable wisdom and other sorts of incontestable truth, and these truths would then be poured into people's minds. But honest people disagree about what is wise and what is incontestable -- and (here I ago again) even popes disagree at times about what is wise and what is incontestable. So your schools would have trouble finding a starting point, unless, like Ave Maria and other schools that idolize JP II, they think that *they* really do have the truths that are incontestable. And what about those who realize now that JP II was not the font of quite all wisdom? Further, in the real world the students of your homogeneous university will, after graduation, meet dissent, and they sure as hell better know how to deal with it or they will be lost. Even if they have really been fed only the truth but have not had to vigorously defend it, they will be ill-prepared to meet the challenges outside, and the poorly-defended Church will become irrelevant in the wider culture. (I think this has already largely happened in our culture!)The only practical way to see to it that truth has a good chance of prevailing is to listen to all sides and then have them battle it out very, very carefully. Yes, students -- and faculty and administration -- are often discomfited by having their ideas challenges, even their most fundamental ideas. But do we as Catholics really value truth or not? Are we humble enough to change our minds when we are shown to be wrong? Do we have enough confidence in the Holy Spirit to welcome change when it points to more truth and more accurate descriptions of the truth? Are we intellectually chicken or not?Unfortunately, there are many within the Church, both clerical and lay, who no longer have the confidence in dialogue that used to be found in genuinely Catholic universities. Such people seem to think that the truth will likely NOT prevail if it is allowed to be challenged. Such an attitude is a feckless one and shows little confidence in the Holy Spirit. And, saddest of all, graduates of such "universities" are most likely to rebel at the narrow-mindedness of their training and rebel themselves right out of the Church after they leave.

A university invitation to a speaker is not an affirmation of moral purity or a stamp of institutional approval. It is an offer to listen in the hope of hearing something of potential value to you. If the speaker is an opponent, competitor, enemy, or bearer of repugnant views against which you would like to be able to prevail, all the more important to listen. Chances of ever prevailing are slim if you don't understand the other side as thoroughly as you do your own. What better way to gain some understanding than to have The Other speak directly to you?I agree with all Ann O says on the subject above. That is how one distinguishes a university from a CCD class.

Jack B. =What gets me the most about the education conservatives is how frightened they all are. It's as if they believe that the truths of the Faith are so vulnerable that the slightest questioning and the whole magisterium will collapse like a house of cards. The most ironic thing is that the JP II kept telling them "Be not afraid". But they are. Scared to death of challenges.I read recently that one of the new atheists, a psychologist. is doing a study of clergymen who have lost their faith but don't tell anyone except her. (She advertised for participants.) They do speak to the psychologist, however. This to me is one of the saddest things I've heard in ages. And I can't help but think that such people would be much, much better off spiritually if they were allowed by their congregations to discuss their religious problems. No doubt they'd find that many in the congregations share the same problems and, together with the rest of their groups, could help each other. My general point is that discovering the truth of the Faith has to be a joint project, and people with different questions and different answers need to be treated with charity and respect, both within the university and in the parishes and, yes, no doubt sometimes in the chanceries as well.

To put the Sebellius talk at the GPPI Tropaia ceremony today in perspective: I just picked up the 400 page Commencement 2012 program for this weekend's graduations. The Georgetown Public Policy Institute does not have a separate listing in the Table of Contents. It's degrees are included in the many graduate programs granting degrees. The programs get no separate heading, just the degrees they grant. Of the thousands of degrees to be granted this weekend, GPPI is conferring 84 Master of Public Management and 92 Master of Public Policy degrees. Kathleen Sebellius' name appears nowhere in the program book. Georgetown's detractors are the one's publicizing her speech.

Mark ProskaI would have thought Godwin's Rule would have been invoked earlier in the comments. Better late than never; you never disappoint.

Ann - I admit I do think that some ideas are wiser than others, and one of the reasons that students pay a lot of money, frequently going deeply into debt, is to acquire that wisdom.On its website (although not on its home page, which surprised me; there doesn't seem to be anything on the landing page that communicates its Catholic identity) Georgetown states that it is "the nation's oldest Catholic and Jesuit university". What is the rich meaning of those adjectives "Catholic" and "Jesuit"? Surely, one of the primary things they convey is, 'Georgetown situates itself in the eminent tradition of Catholic scholarship; here, a student can be immersed in the great Catholic intellectual tradition, and benefit from the accumulated wisdom of Catholic masters.'I agree with you that another important aspect of that Catholic intellectual tradition is the courage to be confronted with challenging ideas, and to learn to consider and respond to (and, when appropriate, accept) those challenging ideas. But doesn't the stewardship of Catholic wisdom also have a role to play in Catholic higher education?I don't know how many Georgetown undergraduates would be exposed to Aquinas. (In my day at Loyola in Chicago, virtually everyone had at least a little exposure). Aquinas' method of arriving at the truth involved weighing the merits of conflicting propositions and objections. But at the end, he arrived at the truth. And thankfully for us, he wrote it all down :-). Why would he do that, if the only value in the exercise was the process of arriving at the truth itself? Under your theory, shouldn't we all have to relitigate the same arguments, over and over, in every generation? I assume that, having done the hard labor of determining what is true, he wanted to share it with others - including those of us, probably the majority, who lack the ability to think such things through ourselves.

Jim PauwelsThis is the page you you may have been looking for. It has additional links to other Jesuit and Catholic related pages

Alan C. MitchellWhile I'm pleased to hear you invariably find my comments satisfying, I think your last comment may have been a manifestation of Wolfcryer's Law: The premature, almost needful, invocation of Godwin's Law, especially when making an argument on the merits requires more effort than can be mustered.

"I agree with you that another important aspect of that Catholic intellectual tradition is the courage to be confronted with challenging ideas, and to learn to consider and respond to (and, when appropriate, accept) those challenging ideas. But doesnt the stewardship of Catholic wisdom also have a role to play in Catholic higher education?"Jim P. ==Of course the the Church's teachings, its wisdom, must be presented in a Catholic university. And in its outlines it ought also to be preserved in other universities -- he's just that great. And it must be done fairly. (Only too many faculty used think that the Church's teachings were there to be disparaged only.)The problem with Thomas is Thomists. They want all the limellight. There are other great Scholastics, like Scotus and Ockham. Yes, Ockham. His treatment by Rome has yet to be properly deconstructed. I won't hold my breath for that either.

Mark ProskaOnce again, you do not disappoint.

I attended the Georgetown College Tropaia ceremony today. I am happy to report that the CINO Catholic university firmly in the hold of the Prince of Darkness covered itself in shame by incorporating many direct mentions of its Catholic and Jesuit heritage. There was the awarding of the Edward Bunn SJ award for teaching excellence, awarded to a neurobiologist who referenced the importance of Georgetown's Catholic and Jesuit character and exhorted her listeners to become men and women for others. Then there was the awarding of medals for academic excellence which were named for Jesuits:the Athansius Kirscher SJ Medal for excellence in music; the Matteo Ricci Medal for excellence in Chinese; the Francis Xavier SJ Medal for excellence in Japanese; The Francis Dineen, SJ medal for excellence in Linguistics and the Ignatius Loyola Medal for the student who best exempYlifies Georgetown's Catholic and Jesuit values. There were additional medals named for individuals who served others selflessly awarded to students who during their four years at Georgetown did the same. Also medals for excellence in Theology and Philosophy. The Benediction was offered by the Rector of the Jesuit community. No medals were awarded for the student who best exemplifies the values of Planned Parenthood or HHS. Maybe all those who are sure that Georgetown breathes only the smoke of Satan should visit campus to see just how Catholic the place is. Calling The Cardinal Newman Society, Professor George, Father Imbelli, Michael J Kelly and all those who believe as they do.

ThorinAsk William Oeter Blatty when was the last time he darkened the door of a church. Was it when a mick up if Georgetown's Dahlgren Chapel was constructed in Maryland for the filming of the Exorcist? He is no paragon of Catholic virtue. Besides he made millions off his alma mater.Regarding the canonical lawsuit mentioned on the CNS site, what they did not tell you is that it was dismissed as having no merit by that flaming liberal James Cardinal Hickey. Finally the CNS has the circumstances and timeline wrong for the dissolution if Hoyas for Choice. They were allowed to meet as a GU club only to discuss the issues related to abortion and choice. When they violated the conditions set on them by the university they were disbanded. The question of Fr. O'Donovan's going to Rome is idle speculation.I would not trust everything you read on the CNS web page to be factual. They get most of their information from Bill Donahue.

That should be Peter not Oeter.

Mock up not mick up. Autocorrect!

As I was driving home tonight, NPR said that it wanted to make a correction. - it had said last night that the Archdiocese of Washington had asked Georgetown to withdraw its invitation to Ms. Sibelius to speak. The Archdiocese of Washingon had not asked Georgetown to withdraw the invitation. Sounds as if someone at the Archdiocese called NPR and told them that they had misinterpreted the letter posted on the archdiocesan website:

John HayesAs I tried to say somewhere in the above comments the Archdiocese does not have the power to force a college or university to withdraw an invitation to a speaker because there is no canonical ground for it. Bishops who pretend they have that authority in these matters overstep their bounds.The Archdiocese of Washington cooperates with Georgetown on a number of outreach programs which I am sure it does not want to jeopardize. You can imagine the pressure on the Cardinal from right wing groups like the Cardinal Newman Society. Wuerl waited until the last possible moment to make a statement because he was pressed into it by the right. Georgetown knows why he said what he said and was not concerned about it. He was placating the right. Next week the Archdiocese and GU will continue their joint ventures for the poor of DC and no one will be the worse for it.The oldest Catholic university in the nation is a great Catholic university that resists definition by its detractors. It will be around long after they are gone.

Here's an audio recording of Secretary Sebelius' speech at Georgetown today - 13 minutes long.The first ten minutes are standard commencement speech advice to graduates (near the beginning there is some uproar while a heckler is ejected) In the last 3 minutes, she endorses JFK's speech to the Protestant ministers and points out the virtues of compromise in government. On the whole, it was a speech in which it is hard to find anything controversial - except to people like Cardinal Chaput and Senator Santorum, who reject the thesis of JFK's speech.

Sorry, i hit the submit button before I pasted in the link:

And Cardinal = Archbishop

I couldn't help but notice we still have an outstanding question on the floor:Does Georgetowns faculty heartily endorse President DeGioias assertion cited above: As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings.Or was it answered and I just missed it?

Alan C. Mitchell--From reading your comments it is clear that it is very important to you that Georgetown remain faithfully Catholic. While we have different views on how faithful it has been, I take your sensitivity to the charge she has been insufficiently faithful to her calling as a propitious omen, and hope the entire faculty feels as you do.I hope I have not disappointed.

Mark: Why would you think this the appropriate forum to conduct your little inquisition? Ask them if you need to know. I'm sure you'll get some memorable replies.

Inquisition? Someone's a bit defensive.

No, you're being arch. And I'm not that into it. Are you going to answer my question?

If you're not that into it, I'm not sure why you are anxious to hear my answer to your question, but if you care to clarify the question, I'd be more than happy to answer it.

Mark ==The word "faithful" appears more and more regularly in the writing of conservative Catholics, while the word "orthodox" doesn't seem to be used by them much any more, if they use it at all. Is its meaning somewhat different from the meaning of "orthodox"?What do you mean by the word? And how can you identify someone who is "faithful to Church teachings" when you find one? Surely, just saying "I'm faithful" won't do.

What are you doing asking about the views of the Georgetown faculty here?

Ann--I think the terms refer to the same general idea when used by conservative Catholics, but I agree there is a difference. Speaking for myself, I think the term orthodox refers more to matters of dogma, and faithful refers to the importance of Catholicism in one's life. One example of exhibiting something less than the faithfulness Catholics are called to would be a university inviting speakers as guests of honor who espouse views that are seriously in conflict with Catholic teaching, for the purpose of gaining stature with those who see Catholicism as, say, a form of superstition.

"What are you doing asking about the views of the Georgetown faculty here?"Grant--I'm still not sure I understand your question, but I will try my best to answer it. I am asking because I am interested in what their views are.Notice how when I asked a question you immediately responded angrily and played the "inquisition" card. When you asked a question I tried my best to answer it. Do you think that's reflective of the respective equanimity in the liberal and conservative souls? Or is that inquiry just more of my little inquisition?

Mark ProskaI can only speak for myself. I believe Georgetown is Catholic as it was intended to be when John Carroll founded it. He wanted it to be a Catholic institution marked by religious diversity and openness. There are many ways that Georgetown expresses it faith. We have a full weekend of liturgies where the chapel is filled until midnight. The Office of Mission and Ministry hosts a very large Campus Ministry which serves all faiths at Georgetown. We may be the only Catholic university with a full time Imam on staff. The Spiritual Exercises are offered frequently to the entire campus community. Many faculty have made the Annotation 19 form of the Exercises and each year more and more make that retreat. I could go on about the Catholic Studies opportunities, the student associations like the Knights of Columbus, which recently won a national award. Yes, we have Catholics of all stripes; you might say we are a microcosm of the Church.I believe Georgetown's detractors are likely never to have visited the place and criticize a mere caricature rather than the reality it is. Georgetown is the Catholic university who many love to hate. I cannot change that but I can try to correct their erroneous views.

Alan C. Mitchell--Thanks for your reply. I imagine some tension is created by wanting an institution to be both Catholic and marked by religious diversity, but that doesn't mean it can't be a healthy tension. I do not doubt that in many ways it is a microcosm of the Catholic Church. I wonder if it can become more of a model for the Church. I don't know if that was part of John Carroll's intention, but to whom much is given...and much has been given to GT.Do you have a feel for the percentage of the faculty who are Catholic and, of those, what percentage see value in seeking the mandatum?

No, we're not playing another round of How Persecuted Are Conservatives? You really don't think it's bizarre to ask about the religious views of Georgetown faculty members at dotCommonweal? And then to snippily repeat the question as though you had posted to the faculty blog? It is.

Mark ProskaSatis. Quid scripsi scripsi.

Grant--GT is a Catholic university, no? dotcommonweal is a Catholic blog, no? Why would it be bizarre for me to think that GT faculty may come here? What is bizarre about asking them if they share the view of their president? A view you quoted, you'll recall, in opening this thread. Why do you feel so threatened every time I ask a question?And where did I ever claim that conservatives are persecuted? And why are you always so angry?

Mark: Look, the subject is not conservatives vs. liberals. Nor is it my impatience with your mischief-making. It is rather simple. You expect me to believe that you posted your question at our blog because you think Georgetown faculty members come here in numbers sufficient to answer you? I'm not angry in the least. In fact, I'm positively tickled.

"You expect me to believe that you posted your question at our blog because you think Georgetown faculty members come here in numbers sufficient to answer you?"I'm not sure what to conclude from that question other than that I seem to have a higher opinion of your blog than you do.

Despite my delight in how my Apple stock is performing I am troubled by how my iPhone introduces errors into my Latin. That should have been Quod scripsi scripsi.

Alan, your description of Georgetown sounds quite a bit like Loyola in Chicago when I was an undergraduate there.Sometime when the atmosphere around here is less toxic, I'd like to hear your views on Catholic higher education - how it has evolved, what is positive and what may be not so positive.

Thank you, Mark. I think I see your distinction. But what concerns me -- if that is the distinction other conservatives make -- is that they seem to think that they are the only faithful Catholics in your sense. As I see it there are both faithful conservatives and faithful liberals. I don't think you understand the function of universities -- ALL views have to be looked at as objectively as possible, and that means asking the view-holder him/herself to explain his/her views. That is why it is relevant to have people like Sibelius speak at Georgetown. It isn't to make points with seculars. It is to find out what her thinking is. In the history of thought I'd say that few thinkers are totally wrong. Most have at least something of value to say, so we can learn from practically everyone. Unfortunately, conservative American Christians often don't appreciate that fact.

Ann--I agree with you that there are both faithful conservatives and faithful liberals. And I would not assert that there is more of one group than the other. I do think that, even when they fall short of the faithfulness to which we are called, conservatives more than liberals see that faithfulness as something to be grasped at.I also agree that the university is uniquely positioned to be a forum for presenting all (or just about all) views as objectively as possible. I note here that Sebelius was not invited to present her views, she was invited because of her views. There were not debated or challenged at GT. In that sense, it not only feel short of its calling as a Catholic university, it fell short of its calling of a university proper.

And now we see what Mark really wants to talk about: how un-Catholic Georgetown is. On his telling, it's not even a university. Shocking, isn't it? And here I thought he was simply on a fact-finding mission to discover the theological commitments of the school's faculty. Sebelius was not invited because she runs the agency that devised a policy the bishops consider an affront to religious freedom. She was invited before the USCCB religious-freedom campaign began. The Georgetown website explains why she was invited, and I linked to it at the top of this post: "As part of the historic Affordable Care Act, she is implementing reforms she says have ended many of the insurance industrys most discriminatory practices and will help 34 million uninsured Americans get health coverage." Expanding health care coverage is a policy the bishops support.

William Peter Blatty now has a website for a "Father King Society" asking Georgetown-related people to appoint him as their "procurator."

Therefore, I do hereby designate and appoint WILLIAM PETER BLATTY as my lawful procurator to act for me, if necessary, in the protection of my rights in accord with the norms of canons 1481-1490 and 1738, to seek alternative forms of relief that may include a declaration by the appropriate ecclesiastical authority that Georgetown University is no longer entitled to call itself a Catholic or Jesuit university, or to order a Visitation, or to seek other remedies, and do expressly grant him a Mandate to appoint additional and substitute procurators, to submit a petition, to renounce an action, instance or judicial act, to make a settlement or strike a bargain, and to enter into arbitration in accord with canon 1435.

Grant--The dotcommonweal policy states, inter alia, that "Your comment will likely be edited or deleted if it includes ad hominem attacks..." A word to the wise...Do you see the irony (I could have used a less charitable word) that the thrust of your rationale for opening this thread was your belief that Professor George had unfairly ascribed a less than noble motive behind GT's inivitation, and now you are doing the same? I was responding to Ann's claim that a university should be a place where all views should be explained and debated. I responded that that precisely did NOT happen here. If you care to respond to the substance of our exchange, please do so, but I'd ask you to refrain from sarcastically divining "waht I really want to talk about."

Mark: There is no irony. Or ad hominem. I don't care what your motives are, but I do care that you keep trying to turn the discussion to the subject of the religious commitments of the Georgetown faculty. It doesn't take divination -- sarcastic or otherwise -- to figure that out. It only takes basic literacy. I don't know how much plainer I can be: If you were serious about your interest, you would go to the horses' mouths. Incidentally, I don't have a "belief" that George was wrong about why Sebelius was invited. I know he was wrong because the president of Georgetown explained the timeline, which undermines George's claim.

More: Dowd rants, National Review attacks, and the beat goes on.FWIW, I think Georgetown is an excelent Catholic university as is Fordham et al.I have deep fears about Steubenville, etc, and worse our diocesan seminaries today where a significant piece of the future is being "prepared."

A link to Patrick J. Deneen's thoughts on the Sebeius invitation (Deneen is, for the moment, on the faculty of Georgetown University) off topic, but this link, probably requires a subscription, to the June/July issue of First Things, has a short article on a Jewish med student's thoughts on the similarities and differences of the GT and Einstein medical schools. The penultimate sentences are:"Einstein could, even as a non-sectarian institution, learn from the Jesuits of Georgetown about the insights into healing and care that religion uniquely provides. Georgetown could learn from the example of Einstein about living in conformity with the requirements of its religion."Also noteworthy is that the author uses the term "eisegetical", (reading something into a text) which I had first seen in a thread on dotcommonweal (by Father I/Father K?) fairly recently. Don't know why but I found that a felicitous coincidence. Broaden your vocabulary at dotcommonweal so you can better understand First Things?

Now if we can only broaden more minds.......

A link to Patrick J. Deneens thoughts on the Sebeius invitation (Deneen is, for the moment, on the faculty of Georgetown University) Curious that he feels that Notre Dame may be a more Catholic place to be:

Since learning of this decision by the University I have served for seven years, and which I leave with sadness and pain to join the University of Notre Dame in the belief that it has the possibility of retaining its Catholic identity

I'll add my endorsement of the Deneen piece on First Things., if you're still reading this thread, he writes some interesting things about the role of a university as facilitator of an open exchange of ideas, and the role of a Catholic university to build God's kingdom. Also, some very important things to say about the responsibility of Catholic institutions, including Catholic universities, to walk in solidarity with the church of which it is a part. He finds it untenable for a Catholic institution to honor the church's persecutor.

Jim P. == Yes, that is where we parr company -- I think it is not only permissible but right to acknowledge the virtue of someone who is not perfect, and that includes people who are at odds with the Church but otherwise fair and wise. No, of course I wouldn't honor an Nero. But to say that Obama is "persecuting" the Church is so far over the top it's ludicrous. Or do you put them both in the same class?Maybe *you* need to attend a non-Catholic university for a semester or two. You'd probably discover some quite honorable people, maybe even better than yourself in some ways, who honestly disagree with the Church and, therefore, oppose it -- quite honorably. It would help you understand your kids if they go to secular schools and turn away from unHoly Mother Church.There is no reason not to honor what is good in a person, even when we do not see things the same. Sibelius has done a great deal of good for the poor. That *ought* to be recognized. Sure, her support of some "pro-women" legislation ought to be criticized. But give credit where credit is due. That is the only way you'll ever reach such people. If you make them out to be moral monsters when they aren't, then the laws will never be changed. You're from Chicago, Jim, so count noses: without a majority who agrees with the Church Roe v. Wade will never be overthrown.

Hi, Ann, as it happens, I do have a degree from a state university, and I spent a couple of years as adjunct faculty at a state college. I also have known honorable people who honestly disagree with the church, including people I met at Loyola.Regarding the word "persecutor": as Deneen aptly put it, the HHS contraception mandate "demands that the Church cease to be itself". While it does so in a way that doesn't rise to Nero's level of atrocitiy, it is still a form of persecution. It is wrong. It is evil. The church needn't, and shouldn't, honor the perpetrator of that evil.

Jim P. ==Would you object to honoring those people for the good they have done? Do you teach your children that such people should be shunned, that their experiences in doing good are irrelevant to doing more good of the same kind? But that is what people who object to Sibelius' speaking at Georgetown are implicitly saying -- her evil thinking cancels out her good thinking, and she can be reduced to her evil thoughts.I grant you that young people often make idols of counter-cultural persons. Ideas can be dangerous. But shouldn't we be teaching them how to to see the danger there? Shouldn't we be teaching them to be critical of their idols -- and themselves when necessary?Here is an article about the Unabomber who actually wrote some stuff about the evils of technology which he thinks justified, even required, his violent actions. A Michigan professor thinks the Unabombers' ideas are important, though not his means to his goals. The article is also about the moral and practical issues involved in giving such a madman a forum. No, none of this is simple. But all the more reason not to ignore it. The article would be a good topic for another thread. The issue (the importance of academic freedom) is at the heart of several other threads that have been going round and round lately, but, I think, not addressing the underlying issues as well as they need to be.

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