Sebelius at Georgetown Commencement

Ellen Staniszewski
May 18th, 20012 was a gloriously sunny day for commencement ceremonies for thousands of undergraduates and graduates at Georgetown University, some held outside.   Regrettably, many of the students will have to mix their joyful memories of graduation with conflicted memories of a defendable protest against the HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, speaking to the Georgetown University Public Policy graduates.

Bestowing honor on Kathleen Sebelius by inviting her to speak at commencement angered more than 26,000 people that took the time to sign the on-line petition to stop her from speaking.   The Catholic bishops have spoken out against the HHS Mandate to force Catholic schools, hospitals and other charities to cover contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients through their insurance against the moral beliefs of the church.

On the sidewalks in front of the university, graduates and families of graduates were angrily yelling back comments to the protestors: "You should not be here disrupting our graduation!  You should be ashamed of yourselves! You have ruined our graduation! We want you to go away!"  Other graduates and their families were proud of the protestors; giving them hugs, cookies, and taking free information concerning freedom of religion and pro-life information.  The largest group on the sidewalk was the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.  Peacefully and prayerfully, these young men dressed in suits and ties, with red sashes, held large signs condemning the Secretary's stand on abortion and the mandate.  Protestors kept praying the rosary, singing Ave Maria, and playing bagpipe music.

Inside the ballroom where the HHS Secretary had barely begun her speech, a protester at the Georgetown University Public Policy Commencement sprung to his feet, calling her a "murderer."   As security escorted the protestor outside, he continued yelling at Kathleen Sebelius and her pro-choice policies.

Another group of protestors gathered outside the ballroom where Sebelius spoke and held pro-life signs, sparking many controversial comments.

Georgetown had been warned that their decision would likely inflame a conflict over the mandate and invite spirited protests, disrupting graduation ceremonies.  Catholic principles are clearly opposed to the HHS Mandate and Sebelius, as she is the ambassador of the law many consider a full blown attack on the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. 

Disunity in Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic University, will seriously detract from meaningful and prayerful dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration which could potentially resolve the mandate issue conflict.  Faithful American Catholics, priest, and bishops are seeking to resolve this issue, while Georgetown University seems content to stir up controversy.  The obvious lack of respect for the Catholic Church and all faithful Catholics by inviting Kathleen Sebelius to Georgetown University was a serious misstep. 

The real tragedy is that Georgetown University could have easily prevented this protest and had a peaceful commencement, simply by rescinding the invitation to Secretary Sebelius, who has inflicted so much pain on the Catholic Church with the HHS Mandate.  I hope that this lesson has been learned

May 18th, 20012 was a gloriously sunny day for commencement ceremonies for thousands of undergraduates and graduates at Georgetown University, some held outside.   Regrettably, many of the students will have to mix their joyful memories of graduation with conflicted memories of a defendable protest against the HHS Secretary, Kathleen Sebelius, speaking to the Georgetown University Public Policy graduates.

Bestowing honor on Kathleen Sebelius by inviting her to speak at commencement angered more than 26,000 people that took the time to sign the on-line petition to stop her from speaking.   The Catholic bishops have spoken out against the HHS Mandate to force Catholic schools, hospitals and other charities to cover contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortifacients through their insurance against the moral beliefs of the church.

On the sidewalks in front of the university, graduates and families of graduates were angrily yelling back comments to the protestors: "You should not be here disrupting our graduation!  You should be ashamed of yourselves! You have ruined our graduation! We want you to go away!"  Other graduates and their families were proud of the protestors; giving them hugs, cookies, and taking free information concerning freedom of religion and pro-life information.  The largest group on the sidewalk was the American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property.  Peacefully and prayerfully, these young men dressed in suits and ties, with red sashes, held large signs condemning the Secretary's stand on abortion and the mandate.  Protestors kept praying the rosary, singing Ave Maria, and playing bagpipe music.

Inside the ballroom where the HHS Secretary had barely begun her speech, a protester at the Georgetown University Public Policy Commencement sprung to his feet, calling her a "murderer."   As security escorted the protestor outside, he continued yelling at Kathleen Sebelius and her pro-choice policies.

Another group of protestors gathered outside the ballroom where Sebelius spoke and held pro-life signs, sparking many controversial comments.

Georgetown had been warned that their decision would likely inflame a conflict over the mandate and invite spirited protests, disrupting graduation ceremonies.  Catholic principles are clearly opposed to the HHS Mandate and Sebelius, as she is the ambassador of the law many consider a full blown attack on the religious freedom of the Catholic Church. 

Disunity in Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic University, will seriously detract from meaningful and prayerful dialogue between the Catholic Church and the Obama administration which could potentially resolve the mandate issue conflict.  Faithful American Catholics, priest, and bishops are seeking to resolve this issue, while Georgetown University seems content to stir up controversy.  The obvious lack of respect for the Catholic Church and all faithful Catholics by inviting Kathleen Sebelius to Georgetown University was a serious misstep. 

The real tragedy is that Georgetown University could have easily prevented this protest and had a peaceful commencement, simply by rescinding the invitation to Secretary Sebelius, who has inflicted so much pain on the Catholic Church with the HHS Mandate.  I hope that this lesson has been learned