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By Deacon Keith Fournier

5/22/2012 (3 years ago)

Catholic Online (

Sadly, there are too many politicians who are professed Catholics and stand publicly for political and policy positions which are directly at odds with the teaching of the Church

The commencement address given by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may actually help to bring about the necessary corrective of this Catholic University which has clearly lost its way. Please pray for Georgetown University. And, while you are praying, pray for Kathleen Sebelius to return to the truths of the faith into which she was baptized. Let us pray - and let us act - in a way that ensures that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking at Georgetown University becomes the seed of the much needed reform of that once great Catholic University and its return to the faith it claims to profess.

HHS Secretary Sebelius at Georgetown

HHS Secretary Sebelius at Georgetown


By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (

5/22/2012 (3 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: Secretary Sebelius, HHS Mandate, Georgetown University, Jesuit, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, heart of the Church, dissent, Religious Freedom, Georgetown U, Deacon Keith Fournier

WASHINGTON,DC (Catholic Online) - In spite of a massive outcry from Catholics around the Nation and  strong objection from Church authority, Georgetown University gave its platform to Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of HHS, to confuse graduates about the nature of moral conscience, its proper formation and their moral obligations as citizens. 

The former Governor of Kansas, Secretary Sebelius is notorious for her open dissent from the teaching of her own Church. She was precluded from receiving communion by her Bishop in Kansas.  The leadership of Georgetown knew all of this. They also know of her hostile position against Religious Freedom demonstrated in her recent issuance of the notorious HHS mandate. Yet, they allowed the event to proceed.

In her address to graduates of Georgetown's Public Policy Institute on Friday, May 18, 2012, the Secretary whose Edict, if left unchanged, seeks to compel the Catholic Church and all of her institutions to provide sterilization, abortion inducing drugs and contraception if they offer health insurance - or face the police power of the State - told the graduates:  "I have the extraordinary opportunity to help implement legislation that is finally, after seven decades of failed debate, ensuring that all Americans have access to affordable health coverage."

With references to President John F Kennedy, she hid behind what I have called the "Kennedy Mistake" for years. She told the graduates, "Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960. And more than 50 years later, that conversation, about the intersection of our nation's long tradition of religious freedom with policy decisions that affect the general public, continues."

Just what that conversation truly means is betrayed by unfaithful Catholics in Public Life who obfuscate the issues we face; politicians like this HHS Secretary. September 12, 2010 marked the fiftieth anniversary of one of the defining political speeches of the last 100 years, the address given by Senator John F. Kennedy to the Houston Ministerial alliance. In that speech he unleashed a horrid mistake. He laid out an approach to the role of religious faith in public life and service which resulted in "privatizing" the truths informed by faith. It also entrenched a mistaken notion of the separation of Church and State.

He failed to acknowledge the existence of a Natural Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason - and which must govern our life together in Society. All just positive laws must comport with this Natural Law.  In the wake of his catastrophic mistake too many Catholics in public life, like Esau of the Old Testament, sold their birthrights for a bowl of porridge and helped to construct the current culture of death. The list of Catholics who eat the porridge - and feed it to others - seems to get longer each year. Some of the more notorious are former Governor Mario Cuomo and Senator Nancy Pelosi.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued a clear directive instruction in 2002 entitled a "Doctrinal Note on some questions regarding the Participation of Catholics in Political Life".  It called upon Catholics to be "morally coherent" in the exercise of their citizenship. Sadly, too many have not been morally coherent. Secretary Sebelius is numbered among them. Giving her a platform to continue spreading the confusion at a Catholic University commencement address was a serious abuse of the leadership of Georgetown University. 

She told the graduates that "Contributing to these debates will require more than just the quantitative skills you have learned at Georgetown. It will also require the ethical skills you have honed - the ability to weigh different views, see issues from other points of view, and in the end, follow your own moral compass."

"These debates can also be contentious. But this is a strength of our country, not a weakness. In some countries around the world, it is much easier to make policy. The leader delivers an edict and it goes into effect. There's no debate, no criticism, no second guessing."

"Our system is messier, slower, more frustrating, and far better. It requires conversations that can be painful and it almost always ends in compromise. But it's through this process of conversation and compromise that we move forward, together, step by step, towards a "more perfect union."

The irony is that her HHS mandate is precisely such an unjust Edict! Her actions and the actions taken by the Administration she serves is an unconstitutional violation of the fundamental Right to Religious Freedom. Her address also continues to compound the error by promoting a false notion of moral conscience to those graduates.

When St. Paul instructed the Christians in Rome on the implications of living their faith, they were surrounded by a culture which was being corrupted by many of the problems we currently face in the West. He told them "...I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, your spiritual worship. Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect". (Romans 12: 1-2)

So it must be with each one of us. We are called into a continual process of conversion which involves a re-formation of our way of thinking. We are also called to change the culture when its practices do not conform to what is good and not be improperly changed by anything within it which is contrary to the truth. Part of this renewal of our minds includes re-thinking how we view our citizenship and the obligations which it entails.

The Catechism summarizes the duties of both civil authorities and of good citizens in its Section entitled "Life in Christ" at Par. 2234-2246. It is no accident that this section follows the discussion of the duties owed within the family. After all, the family is the first society. The problem is that many Catholics do not understand that we must educate our consciences in order to ensure that they conform to the truth as revealed in the Natural Law and expounded upon in Revelation.

There has been some poor teaching in the arena of moral theology which has left the faithful confused on this and many other subjects of profound importance to living as Catholic Christians. It has led to people speaking as though our "conscience" somehow equates with our "feelings" or is an aspect of our own opinion. Not only do our consciences need to be formed, they can also become deformed and regularly need to be re-formed. That is all too evident when we simply look at the way in which some Catholics currently approach political participation.

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in Article 6 entitled "Moral Conscience", Sections 1776 - 1802, summarizes the teaching of the Church with crystal clarity on this vital topic. Secretary Sebelius either has not read it or she simply rejects it, just as she rejects the teaching of the Church concerning the dignity of every human life as well as the teaching on Religious Freedom as a fundamental human right. The Georgetown leaderships' decision to allow her to openly dissent and confuse those graduates at the diploma ceremony was reprehensible.

Sadly, there are too many politicians who are professed Catholics and stand publicly for political and policy positions which are directly at odds with the teaching of the Church - and the Natural Law - on the dignity of every human life from conception to natural death, marriage and family, and other vital issues. This is a symptom of a much bigger malady.  It is also a continuing scandal.

To be a "faithful" citizen, for a Catholic, means to be filled with an understanding of what is taught by our faith and to live out a commitment to that faith in every area of our lives. We are to view our lives as an integrated unity and not compartmentalize. All too often, we can approach our lives in a manner that fails to understand the implications of the Incarnation.

When Catholics assign the teaching of the Scriptures and Magisterium of our Church to only the perceived "religious" or "spiritual" part of our lives they do not understand their faith. Faith is meant to be a light which presides over the entirety of our life. Contrary to the lies of the contemporary dictatorship of relativism, there are truths that can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason and those truths should govern our life together in society. 

There has been a swift and strong response to this action by Georgetown University by properly formed and energized Catholics. The Cardinal Newman Society has led in the struggle to expose such egregious actions at other Colleges  and is doing so now. To join their effort go here

The Father King Society of Georgetown, which is comprised of alumni and students of Georgetown and named after the late faithful and heroic priest theologian of Georgetown, is filing an action under Canon Law concerning Georgetown's continued violations of Ex Corde Ecclesiae  (From the Heart of the Church), the  Apostolic constitution which governs Catholic identity and the Catholic nature of a College or University which bears the name Catholic.

Catholic Vote, one of a growing number of groups in the movement for a New Catholic Action, was also fruitfully engaged. On May, 17, 2012, they delivered a Catholics for Unity petition with 35,000 signatures to the office of Georgetown University president John J. DeGioia seeking to prevent the scandal of the Secretary's address from even occuring. He did not listen to them or to the leadership of the Church which had made their concern clear as well. .

The commencement address given by Secretary Kathleen Sebelius may actually help to bring about the necessary corrective of this Catholic University which has clearly lost its way. Please pray for Georgetown University. And, while you are praying, pray for Kathleen Sebelius to return to the truths of the faith into which she was baptized. Let us pray - and let us act - in a way that ensures that HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius speaking at Georgetown University becomes the seed of the much needed reform of that once great Catholic University and its return to the faith it claims to profess.


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