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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.)


Commenting Guidelines

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.