The Religion News website reports today (May 17, 2012) that tensions between the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. and Georgetown University are escalating ahead of the address tomorrow (May 18) by pro-abortion Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius -- a conflict that is becoming a microcosm of the political battles raging inside the Catholic Church.
Sebelius -- a "cafeteria Catholic" whose support for abortion rights and President Obama's contraception insurance mandate has infuriated bishops and conservative Catholics -- was chosen to deliver a speech at the school's annual awards ceremony on commencement weekend.
The Cardinal Newman Society -- a Catholic watchdog group -- called the Sebelius invitation "outrageous" and sent an online petition with more than 26,000 signatures to Georgetown President John DeGioia, warning him "to stop this scandal and insult." One writer referred to this situation as a Georgetown-Archdiocese "civil war."
Washington Cardinal Donald Wuerl called the Sebelius invitation "a disappointment but not a surprise" because Georgetown -- the oldest Catholic university in the United States -- has been taking a path in recent years that contradicts Catholic teachings. The Catholic World News strongly criticized Cardinal Wuerl this week for his failure to use his authority to cancel Sebelius' invitation.
The fact is that Cardinal Wuerl's response was a cowardly response. For example, in Massachusetts, Worcester Bishop Robert McManus used his authority to force Anna Maria College -- a Catholic college in suburban Worcester -- to cancel its invitation to Sen. Ted Kennedy's widow, Victoria Reggie Kennedy, as its commencement speaker this year, because of her support of abortion rights and gay marriage.