Sparring over Sebelius

Things are getting interesting in the Archdiocese of Washington.  Details:

The already-boiling debate about Georgetown University’s decision to invite Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak during graduation hit the highest levels of Catholic Washington on Tuesday, with the region’s archbishop slamming the school’s president for the “shocking” invitation and saying the real issue was being distorted.

Since Sebelius was announced earlier this month as one of the speakers for this week’s Georgetown graduation ceremonies, about 27,000 people have signed a petition, circulated by a conservative Catholic think tank, urging the university to withdraw the invitation. Sebelius was a key architect of the 2010 health-care law, and she authored the requirement that employers, including most religious ones, provide their employees with contraception coverage.

On Tuesday, the archdiocese of Washington, led by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, criticized Georgetown President John J. DeGioia for remarks he issued a day earlier — apparently to address the controversy — saying DeGioia had mischaracterized the issue as being about birth control. As the region’s top Catholic official, Wuerl is responsible for making sure Catholic institutions, including Georgetown, follow church teachings.

DeGioia “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,” reads the statement from the archdiocese, which covers the District and suburban Maryland.

The Catholic bishops have led opposition to the mandate, arguing that it violates religious freedom. Liberal and moderate Catholics and other religious advocates also opposed the mandate when it was announced in January but their opposition died down after the White House shifted the requirement from the employers to insurance companies.

Addressing the controversy Monday, DeGioia noted that debate about the mandate “dominated public discourse” in the months after Sebelius was invited in January to speak at an awards ceremony for the school’s Public Policy Institute.

“The Secretary’s presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views,” DeGioia wrote. “As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown disassociates itself from any positions that are in conflict with traditional church teachings.”

But the statement from the archdiocese said DeGioia was avoiding the real issue.

“Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University President’s statement, the fundamental issue with the HHS mandate is not about contraception,” the archdiocese’s statement read.

Read more.


  1. I found President DeGioia’s reasoning to be nuanced and sound. The CNS and their like seem to be continually shifting their sand-drawn battle line, depending on their mood.

    I don’t think there’s any problem with Sec Sebelius speaking at a graduate department’s ceremony. Likewise I don’t have a problem with John Brennan speaking at Fordham. If these appearances stimulate adult discussion and religious discernment within these academic communities, then the Catholic identity has been achieved.

    I think we can see clearly where the CNS and other opponents are going on this political front. It’s not enough to oppose abortion. It’s not enough to oppose those who do not oppose abortion. It’s not enough to not listen to those who don’t oppose the legal option of abortion.

    I think we’re past due for a time-out on the abortion issue. We are long past convincing most fence-sitters–it’s now all about raising political money and scoring points. Some political pro-lifers are so far past saving the unborn, even one small life, it would be comical if the issue itself weren’t so grave.

    I’m going to oppose those who oppose. And in the minds of some, that makes me a friend by being the enemy-of-the-enemy. But some otherwise faithful Catholics are their own worst enemies.

  2. James Graham says:

    In terms of controversy, certainly the on going challenged posed by the directive of the HHS department has a front page. Given the notoriety of the on going exchange I can understand the concern caused by this invitation.

    Having said that, the USCCB has issued a number of teachings dealing with the dignity of the human person. One such teaching by the conference concerned poverty in the USA, one in four children living below the established line of poverty, the numbers of foreclosures, the number of unemployed, and the numbers of folks w/o health insurance. The conference made the request that every bishop speak to these issues and the conference made teaching resources available.
    I find it strange that very few dioceses spoke to the issue as requested by the conference.

    In terms of religious freedom, the conference has a very detailed teaching on this subject too. There is a site located on the web site of the USCCB that speaks to the numerous threats on religious liberty. The conference refers to issues such as immigration laws enacted by some states that make it a crime to minister to the undocumented who reside in a diocese located in such a state.

    Many people have stated they feel the church has taken a “one issue” stand in terms of the pro life movement. A recent survey taken in a northeastern diocese asked no longer practicing catholics why they do not practice. Many responders stated they believed the church was not concerned with poverty, but was focused on only abortion, and artificial birth control. Some accused the church of being pro republican, others used the term pro conservative.

    A prominent university located in the Washington DC area invited a legislator to speak at its university. That legislator was a coauthor of a bill which was condemned by the USCCB because it would strip away the safety net supporting millions of Americans.

    YET! There was absolutely NO condemnation what so ever save the editors of America Magazine.

    I suggest IF we as a church are going to continue to publicly criticize catholic institutions on the basis of noncompliance with catholic social teaching. then we’d better recognize the “ENTIRE GARMENT OF LIFE”.

    Just my thoughts

  3. ron chandonia says:

    Catholic supporters of the Obama administration routinely charge that Catholic pro-lifers are too focused on a single issue, and the controversy over Secretary Sebelius is supposed to illustrate that point. But Sebelius has made herself something of a one-issue Catholic, and that issue, unfortunately, has been (as the secularists put it) reproductive rights. Just this morning, I read a partisan but still revealing commentary on the legacy she left behind in Kansas:

    I recall the photos of Governor Sebelius embracing abortionist George Tiller in the Kansas governor’s mansion, and I think there is much truth in the first comment made about today’s National Review piece: “Sebelius is the Madame Defarge of the Obama Administration.”

  4. naturgesetz says:

    Todd, there’s nothing about abortion in the article above or in Mr. DiGioia’s statement, so I don’t know why you’re ranting about abortion in all those “it’s not enough”‘s.

    But I think it’s ludicrous to call for a time out on the abortion issue until there is a time out on the killings. We need to continue our efforts to educate the public, because hearts and minds are won one at a time. Furthermore, it seems that young people are not locked into the pro-abortion mentality of their elders who, despite their phony line about “safe, legal, and rare,” actually never heard of an abortion they didn’t like. The young people are open to persuasion, and shame on us if we don’t continue to make the case. And in politics, if we can be prudent enough to settle for incrementalism where “all or nothing” will give us nothing of what we want, there can be progress. But we’ll never have progress if we stop working for it.

  5. I’m with the above commenters. When this was first announced I said the worst thing the Church could do was make a big deal out of it. That only ends up giving Kathleen Sebelius more attention–and therefore power. She’s not teaching a class on medical ethics or leading a student retreat. If we aren’t forming wise enough Catholics to be able to listen to people who represent opposing positions (within and outside of the Church) and discern truth, we have WAY bigger problems than the HHS mandate.

  6. Ron, please don’t insist on the enemy-of-my-enemy meme. Like you, I decline to support Mr Obama’s administration on many issues. But my lack of criticism for Georgetown on this speaking engagement only appears as “support” because so many Catholics, including our bishops, have put politics above Catholic identity and unity.

    Sec Sebelius’s appearance is galling to some Catholics. Good. Engage the issue, not the gossip.

  7. Far from ludicous, I think it’s the perfect moment to call a political timeout on abortion. The debate as it stands, benefits both major parties, neither of which has any incentive to change the situation. Better for tens of millions of pro-life Catholics to adopt a few hundred thousand kids, house or hire tens of thousands pregnant mothers, and work to eliminate the situations that make abortion an easy choice.

    Most of these mothers are not in need of education. They need hope.

  8. I for one would like to hear what she has to say. The way that groups, e.g., Cardinal Newman Society, are making an issue of this is so foreign to Cardinal Newman’s idea of a university.

  9. The Democrat win again.

    Catholic university drops student health insurance, cites ObamaCare

    “Catholic university in Ohio said Tuesday it is being forced to end a student health insurance program over the Obama administration’s contraception mandate and costs associated with other provisions of the health care overhaul.

    Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, said it has so far excluded contraceptive services and products from its health insurance policy for students and will not participate in a plan that “requires us to violate the consistent teachings of the Catholic Church on the sacredness of human life.”

    In its decision to drop coverage, the school cited the contraception mandate, but also a requirement that the maximum coverage amount be increased to $100,000 for policyholders — claiming that would have made premiums skyrocket. A university official told Fox News Radio the students’ basic $600 policy was going to double in cost in the fall and triple next year and that the school’s insurance provider said the increases were the result of the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.”

  10. Nice. The university won’t compromise its morals, but they have no problem giving a few hundred young adults the very same choice.

    Maybe they should just make a deal with all the Catholic doctors in Steubenville to treat student accidents for a modest reimbursement and cut out the insurance industry altogether.

    130 years ago Fr McGivney and some lay men came up with a plan. Sure seems that these guys could do likewise for health insurance for some tens of millions of Catholic Americans.

  11. The Washington comPost does not metion the fact that Georgetown changed the name from “commencement” to “awards ceremony” on their website. Georgetown now claims that she was never invited to a commencement.

  12. Georgetown literati thumbing their nose at the Church. Must be nice to live in Ivory Towers of smugness.

    “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,” reads the statement. “It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops.”

    Listen to this pap.

    Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia: “The Secretary’s 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.”

    Yet, Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia is stilling going to give her an award.

    Back to the Bishop…..

    “The archdiocese shot back. “Contrary to what is indicated in the Georgetown University President’s 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,” its statement said.

    “ 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,” the statement continued.”

  13. joe mc Faul says:

    “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,” the statement continued.”

    If that’s the issue, that’s not grounds for an objection to her speaking. The bishops’ view on the cosntitutionality of the mandate is both prudential and wrong.

  14. Catholics in public life have such a hard time watching for all the back stabbing by the bishops and their “ditto-heads”. Years ago it was the great Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was always dogged by our bishops and clergy. He gave an outstanding speech at Notre Dame University in 1984 “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective”. Secretary Sebelius has had a most distinguished career, as Governor of Kansas and as Secretary of Health and Human Services. It is grossly unfair that she has become the voodoo doll of the right, for alleged attacks on religious freedom, particularly her very own religion.
    People need to remember that she adopted standards that had already been in place in 25 states for more than a decade, with none of the whining that we now hear for campaign season by the US Catholic Bishops. Where were they all these years that they suddenly decide to go ballistic, and especially in demonizing her? Cardinal Wuerl who is now one of the complainers, himself was a bishop all during this period, and evidently he was asleep at the switch.
    The bishops all need a lesson in how to govern in a diverse society such as the USA. They are as a group not attuned to the democratic process, in which no one religion’s views are adopted to apply to all. Catholics are still free not to practice contraception and not to have abortions. The bishops have not had a constructive role in the national health care debate, but have only acted as the “Amen” corner for the republicans who fought against extending health care to tens of millions of people. Millions of young people who can’t find a job with health benefits are now able to get on their parents’ policies, pre-existing conditions will not be a basis of denial of health coverage. However, the bishops, all of whom have the best health insurance money can buy, are willing to throw the baby out with the bath water, if they do not get their way 100% of the time.
    I’d like to see Cardinal Wuerl give up his free health insurance and medicare and free prescriptions while he and his fellow bishops continue to play obstructionists for the hundreds of millions of Americans against who they are really fighting. Do they know what it is to deal with looking for health care for your child with disabilities or any other real world problem that Americans face in seeking health care before the Affordable Care Act?

    I am squarely in the camp of letting people speak, and the listeners can make up their minds. Sebelius is a thoughtful person who is not going to say or do anything foolish. The days of the Index of Forbidden Books is gone. The Catholic Bishop’s Black List of Forbidden Speakers also needs to be challenged.

  15. We shall see about that if the USSC throws Obama’s attempt to socialize 1/5th of the US economy is ruled ‘unconstitutional’ in June.

  16. Kristen inDallas says:

    Hope, Absolutely! But there are plenty of young mothers that need the education too. (speaking as a previously “well-educated” but morally stupid mother) A time-out on the poilitcal warfare lefty/righty stuff, sure. But no time-outs on truth.

    PS a group that is doing great things in terms of both Hope AND Truth in a very non-lefty/righty kind of way:

  17. You are wrong in your analysis.

    A) The Bishop’s are not preventing the abortion-monger Secretary Kathleen Sebelius from speaking. They are merely voicing their opinion that a death merchant who protects abortionists who provide late term abortions is probably not the ideal candidate for a Jesuit school.

    B) Your stance that the Bishops should remain silent about issues affecting their faith is contrary to American ideals of free expression. You have become what your disdain.

  18. Kristen inDallas says:

    It’s beyond me whether or not the bishops should have gotten into it… (but they are bishops, and given that whole, obediance in Christ thing, I’m going to go with it.) But first and foremost Georgetown should have listened to it’s students (many of whom expressed concern with this choice well before the media and Bishops got into it.) The students are the ones who worked their butts off to get to graduation, it should be a special day celibrating THEM. Whether they agree with Sebelius’ position or not, Georgetown officials had to know that inviting her would make that day about HER, and that is not appropriate for a commencement. Invite her to speak any other day of the year, engage in the debate, make more well-formed and articulate Catholics in a setting that is appropriate. Commencement should be something a graduate has fond memories of… not something you ditch because you think your school went wackaloo.

  19. Kristen inDallas says:

    Prudential: Involving or showing care and forethought, typically in business.
    Synonyms: prudent – discreet – wise

    …Well it is that. :)

  20. Chris Mac says:


    The invitation is a scandal. The bishop is correct to oppose it. The HHS secretary is a manipulator of public opinion, and an authority misusing power. Georgetown, as a Catholic university, is a facilitator of scandal.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

    2284 Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. the person who gives scandal becomes his neighbor’s tempter. He damages virtue and integrity; he may even draw his brother into spiritual death. Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense…

    2286 Scandal can be provoked by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion.

    Therefore, they are guilty of scandal who establish laws or social structures leading to the decline of morals and the corruption of religious practice, or to “social conditions that, intentionally or not, make Christian conduct and obedience to the Commandments difficult and practically impossible.”87 This is also true of business leaders who make rules encouraging fraud, teachers who provoke their children to anger,88 or manipulators of public opinion who turn it away from moral values.

    2287 Anyone who uses the power at his disposal in such a way that it leads others to do wrong becomes guilty of scandal and responsible for the evil that he has directly or indirectly encouraged. “Temptations to sin are sure to come; but woe to him by whom they come!”89

  21. ron chandonia says:

    Years ago it was the great Gov. Mario Cuomo, who was always dogged by our bishops and clergy. He gave an outstanding speech at Notre Dame University in 1984 “Religious Belief and Public Morality: A Catholic Governor’s Perspective”.

    Talk about revisionist history! The thrust of the “great” governor’s Notre Dame speech was to provide a cover for Catholics in public life to support public funding of abortion on demand. He and Sebelius are birds of a feather, all right.

  22. You misread my remarks. Of course, Wuerl is not technically prohibiting her from speaking. I never said nor implied it, above.

    Wuerl’s public pressure and comments are disrespectful to the President of Georgetown University, disrespectful to Secretary Sebelius, and meant to embarrass her. No one will wish to speak at a Catholic institution if the bishops don’t learn some manners.

    I listened to Cardinal Francis Arinze drone on to a totally bored graduation audience a few years ago at Georgetown. However, I give Georgetown credit for gathering an array of viewpoints in their discussions and speeches at this great university. If Catholics in public office are going to be held to such criticism and opprobrium by the bishops all the time, even regarding reception of the Holy Eucharist (once a wonderful sacrament, until turned into a political weapon by the bishops), these same bishops need to be barred from Catholic institutions from speaking or celebrating mass due to their abhorrent failures in leadership and covering for each other in criminal activity in the sex scandal crisis engulfing the world-wide Catholic Church.

  23. The governance of our Catholic Church by our hierarchy is itself a scandal, in the US, Ireland, Belgium (where even the Cardinal’s office had to be raided by the police), Netherlands, Italy, Mexico, etc., etc.

  24. Kristen inDallas says:

    There is no baby… only bath water.
    The plan strips employers of their religious convictions, strips individuals of their autonomy and ability to select a plan that best meets their needs, raises premiums for most, reduces health-consumer awareness and relies on price fixing, and still has glaring holes in many of the same places our old system had glaring holes. (People working temporary, seasonal, part-time, or small-employer jobs will still not have health care of any kind provided by their employer.)
    Even putting my feelings about contraceptives aside… a health law that reduces medicare benefits by forcing more individuals to pay for something they may not need or want, many of whom are already struggling and might prefer to spend their money on things like food or education, does not seem very Catholic (or any variety of Christian) to me.

  25. Get real, Todd. What makes abortion an easy choice is legal and social acceptance. Children have been coming into the world at inconvenient times since the dawn of creation: it’s beyond silly to pretend this constitutes a new and uniquely challenging “situation”.

  26. Midwestlady says:

    She doesn’t have anything to say that could possibly interest me. She’s done what she can to destroy what she can. Her real sympathies are clear.

  27. Midwestlady says:

    That’s a separate issue from the “Sebelius as speaker at Georgetown” issue.

    Franciscan University isn’t tied up in this except on the same level as any other Catholic college contemplating increased costs as a result of Obamacare. The timing is coincidental. You’re shortly going to see a lot of Catholic institutions either separate themselves from the Church OR drop health insurance for students and employees. Why? It’s going to become prohibitively expensive to carry it as a benefit. Each person will carry the expense of the insurance itself plus a very hefty fine. It will be cheaper to go outside individually to obtain insurance. It’s just as simple as that.

  28. Midwestlady says:

    Todd, Franciscan University isn’t required to provide a health insurance plan for its students. Those students will just have to make their own arrangements for health insurance. You can thank the Obama administration for that.

  29. Midwestlady says:

    Well, that’s a pretty stark statement, Drake. It explains a lot.

  30. By whom? You and your ilk? Your challenge to the Bishops amounts to a hill of beans.

  31. Then leave. You aren’t “in” anyway/

  32. I think we need a new nomenclature for some Catholics to be called “Good Governance Catholics”, for those who don’t want any more Vatican coddling and rewarding of the likes of Bernard Law, and who are tired of seeing bishops and clerics needing to be being brought to justice by the civil authorities, because the church is no longer willing to “self correct”. I think we need people to express outrage that many billions and billions of dollars are being squandered by our hierarchy worldwide to pay for their poor governance and the clergy’s and hierarchy’s misdeeds, instead of using this money to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, take care of the sick. We need a hierarchy that sees the plank in its own eyes, and quits dwelling on the splinter in the eyes of others. I regret, in the current era, there is not such a Catholic hierarchy in the world.

  33. Midwestlady says:

    Let me put it this way: We, as Catholics, listen to this horse manure every year. The only thing that keeps this from being a play-by-play rerun of last year is the HHS mandate, but that will neither get addressed nor affected by this charade of commencement speeches. That’s really a separate issue and will get handled as such. This is just noise.

    All the privileged people who paid through the nose to get a law degree with get them, duly paid for and delivered. That’s what really matters to them. To the rest of us, this is just one more minor aggravation, on top of a huge pile of them. So, whatever. If you want to analyze it til the cows come home, have at it. It won’t end up making any difference anyway. It is what it is. Happens every year.

  34. Midwestlady says:

    Declare yourself anything you want, Drake. It really doesn’t matter. You’ve said plenty already and that could hardly be weirder…or worse.

  35. In being real, I also recognize that despite being legal and accessible, for many women it is also a difficult choice. Given the number of people who regret having abortions, I think there are thousands of people who would otherwise be close to persuaded to bring their child to term. The person who uses abortion as a birth control method? I don’t think you or I or the Church has a prayer of convincing them.

    I also have real experience in persuading people against abortion, so I think I know what I’m talking about when I say that political activism is sometimes the worst enemy of an abortion-free culture.

    But if it makes people feel better to roll with the anger, go for it. But don’t kid yourself that this stance has anything to do with life. Like most political movements, it’s been poisoned by narcissism–the self-importance of the self-righteous. Thanks, but I’d rather give my money to BirthRight, volunteer with real women rather than politicos, and keep speaking the Truth to people who have lost themselves in a political wilderness.

  36. Actually, most of them will remain covered on their parents’ insurance plans–if they have them. And that’s one thing I can thank Mr Obama for. And for the students whose parents don’t have plans or can’t afford them, it’s just one more reason why we probably need to ditch the whole health-insurance-for-profit scheme and go to a single payer system.

  37. Stark? Possibly.

    True? Definitely. The scandals are numerous, were happening for long, long periods of time, and are/were worldwide. The culture or atmosphere that fostered them and the resultant cover-ups are rightfully and justifiably laid at the doorstep of the hierarchy.

  38. Chris,

    Unfortunately, for many conservative Catholics, “scandal” has been redefined to “stuff that makes me angry.” Sorry, but that doesn’t cut it. One doesn’t get to rewrite the Catechism to suit one’s likes and dislikes. Perhaps CCC 2478 is suggested instead here.

    The truth of it is that GU invited the Secretary at the behest of its students. She’s going to speak. The Right can’t stop it, but will work itself into a foam about it. And the GOP will get a cash trickle. In the end, everybody stays the course: abortion and/or its abolition remains a carrot to manipulate extremist citizens on both sides of the issue to stay mobilized for the Cause. The unborn continue to be aborted at rates acceptable to the industry and without any influence whatsoever by the people who feel passionately this needs to change.

  39. Hmm, a directive to leave. Seems very unchristian. If that is an example of a Catholic gesture, then I find it hard to reconcile Christian with Catholic.

  40. Midwestlady says:

    I’m not in favor of Obamacare of any kind, Todd. I hope the Supreme Court strikes it down. The federal government has no authority or business telling me I have to buy anything. It’s bad enough I pay exhorbitant taxes so that they can spend it like water.

  41. Midwestlady says:

    Stark, definitely, Jake.

  42. Midwestlady says:

    You are right about one thing, Todd. Abortion is a big business. Many millions of dollars are made on this business every year.

  43. Of course it is. It’s why, in part, the AMA lobbied the GOP to decriminalize abortion in the 60′s.

  44. Well, as a church employee paying off a few thousand dollars in medical bills–my share not covered by insurance–I can’t agree. The idea of single-payer insurance did not originate with Mr Obama, and regardless of the outcome at SCOTUS, the issue’s not going to disappear anytime soon. I opposed the ACA, like you, but mainly because it didn’t go far enough to rein in corporate death panels and out-of-control costs.

    For most Americans, the government or its corporate masters already insist insurance be bought: for cars, for mortgages, and such. Maybe it’s easy enough to go through life without buying a house. That would be my choice. It’s a bit harder being a non-driver. Especially if you live in a rural state. Maybe it’s the trickiest of all to go through life without getting sick. If you can manage it, more power to you.

    My wife is looking at three major operations this year, and I know the Catholics in my pews don’t pay me enough to fund those procedures out-of-pocket. Medical insurance is a necessity, unless you know a lot of generous doctors. And even with that insurance my diocese provides, I’m going to shell out about $6000 minimum before it’s all done.

    You want to send me a check for that? Or better yet, hire me as a consultant? My wife reminds me daily to be grateful for what we have. But all you internet harpies seem concerned about is your petty politics and your Tea Party wonder boys. You should try the Gospel of Jesus for a change.

    I think its high time that these crummy bishops got off their high horse, put their heads together with the Knights of Columbus or somebody who could pry health insurance out of the job market and get it done for tens of millions of good Catholics and others who want nothing more than to provide for their families and their own good health.

    Unless and until I see that kind of effort Archbishops Dolan, Wuerl, and all can stuff their religious freedom schtick. We don’t need it. And a lot of good Catholics don’t want it.

  45. Concerning abortion, it is a sad fact that Catholic women have abortions at a rate slightly higher (30% of all abortions) than is proportional for the Catholic population in the US. I believe that within the Catholic group, there is also a disproportionate representation of Latina girls and women. The way that the entire discussion on abortion has been handled over the years, as well as the Catholic Church’s historical attitudes about all sex, including sex within marriage, have affected people at large, and I think most are “tuned out” on the subject. The hostility toward contraception made many individuals not listen on the subject of abortion. One interpretation of the numbers is that the Catholic bishop’s positions are having absolutely no positive effect. There needs to be a good examination of this.
    By the way, several members of our family have been volunteers at pro-life pregnancy centers, we have made significant donations to these centers , and one member of the family was president of the Georgetown University Right to Life organization.

  46. Oregon Catholic says:

    Drake’s assessment is harsh, but nonetheless true. Most in the hierarchy either participated in misdeeds or knew about them and kept silent allowing things to continue. It is a culture that has acted first of all to protect itself.

    I respect Catholic dogma, the sacraments, the priesthood, and parish community. I no longer have respect for the institutional culture. I’m sorry to say it but it is true. The less I think about the Church beyond my parish, the better.

  47. Midwestlady says:

    Well, Todd, your hospital bills notwithstanding, it’s not all about you.

  48. Midwestlady says:

    Actually it has next to nothing to do with the rather distant and juridical things that you blame. It’s sociological. It has to do with the way that parishes and dioceses are conceptualized among American Catholics. Most people have rather formal and tenuous relationships with their parishes and they get rather little support in times of trouble. They appeal to the majority culture when they’re in trouble in a way very similar to other Americans. This no longer differentiates us. So it’s no wonder the statistics are similar. I would be surprised if they weren’t.

  49. Midwestlady says:

    And lest someone goes off into some twisted part of their heads and thinks I’m endorsing abortion, I’m definitely NOT doing that. I’m saying that WHEN you have personal contact with the people down at your church, which means you are used to talking with them about your life, and you pray with them on a regular basis, THEN you can discuss the problems in your life and come to difficult but necessary conclusions more easily. Support if you’re going to do the right thing makes that right thing a lot easier and more socially do-able–enough so to withstand the nasty, predatory, filthy culture that we now live in.

  50. And neither is it about you. We live in a large nation, a complex culture. And whether you feel bothered by what other people might do, our responsibilities as citizens and human beings sometimes overshadow our particular likes and dislikes. The same holds true for our bishops. They have a Christ-given mandate to serve.

  51. Your anti-abortion bona fides are safe with us, my friend.

  52. Midwestlady says:

    No, they have a God-given responsibility to run the Church in their dioceses.

  53. Midwestlady says:

    No need to be obsequious, Todd. I agree with the Church on abortion and I have no problem saying so. Just didn’t want my previous post misunderstood.

  54. pagansister says:

    Good Grief! The woman will give her speech, and then what will folks talk about? One would think that this was an earth shaking event that will affect history forever. Folks have short memories and if I were graduating I’d just want to get that piece of paper and get the heck out! :o)

  55. I don’t think there’s any way you would be misunderstood. I agree with church teaching on abortion, too. I just differ on the prudential matters of how to express it. We’re all pro-life here, my friend. no need to get overly excited about the peripherals.

  56. Midwestlady says:

    That’s exactly what’s going on, pagansister. All those graduates are coming because they want the pictures and the memory of “walking” for their diploma. After all they’ve worked hard, paid plenty and made it through the terrors of the final audit. ;) That’s what they care about. Their parents are probably just glad to see the ordeal of having a kid in college over with.

    The tradition everywhere is to have a big mouth speaker at graduation, to which the students all go,” good gravy, I hope it wont’ last long,” and “What can I wear under this thing that’s not too hot?”

    And yes, having a creepy speaker like Sebelius at what used to be a major Catholic college is a pain in the rump for the Church, but let’s be honest. This happens every single year, every single one. You’d think we’d have gotten used to it by now. It’s not like it’s a novelty or anything.

  57. Chris Mac says:


    It’s clear you see everything as political, as a right-left controversy, and the outcomes as win/lose. That is not the spiritual view of the Catechism or of the Catholic faith. Does having someone whose world view is destructive to that of the Faith give a talk to a group of graduates further the Faith-mission of a Catholic university? Is this woman — whose bishop has forbidden her to receive the Eucharist — in any way a role model for young graduates of a Catholic institution seeking to go into the political arena? Shouldn’t students leave an institution on a high note? I believe so.

    Not only that, but the controversy could have (could) the effect of of making Sebelius think about her soul. It is an archbishop’s job to instruct those in his diocese on the truth of the Faith. Sebelius in his opinion is not a faithful Catholic. That would give me pause… and certainly should put any remarks she does make in context for the students and the world.

  58. Bill Kelly says:

    Too much talk and “reasons’ for this or that. It is very simple. Ms. Sebelius is a true hypocrite and the university is playing politics to the Administration. I am ashamed of the University and all the people who call themselves “Catholic” and choose to put people like the secretary in a place of honor.

  59. People seem to think that the only religion in America is Catholic. In a democracy, in a diverse society, in a country whose Supreme Court has made the civil equivalent of an ex cathedra pronouncement, Catholic authorities have turned to shunning and scolding, rather than working to examine how diverse groups of differing beliefs may coexist in a society. What is the bishops’ solution? They are on shaky ground if they are calling for ignoring the laws (as they often have claimed they have a right to do in the child abuse cases). The Catholic Church has never accepted the fact that it has to live with other human institutions, and other authorities than itself.

  60. if it makes people feel better to roll with the anger, go for it

    Apparently it makes Todd Flowerday feel better to dismiss his opponents as angry. I have said that the legal and cultural climate promote abortion because women are less likely to seek it in defiance of legal and social norms. It’s these norms, along with other injustice, that concern the Mystical Body of Christ as we pray for the coming of his kingdom. What is your purpose in spinning this as self-important, angry partisanship? Just who’s got the narcissism problem here?

  61. And in the end, not one mind will be changed, either way.

  62. pagansister says:

    Exactly, pol, exactly.

  63. Midwestlady says:

    Apparently it makes Todd Flowerday feel better to dismiss his opponents as angry.

    Yeah, it’s a persistent pattern.

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