The Georgetown University community and Washington Catholics are divided over the school's decision to invite Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to deliver graduation remarks this weekend.
Georgetown's decision has angered some at the Jesuit institution who argue that Sebelius, as the author of the 2010 healthcare reform law, directly challenges religious freedom by mandating that employers, including some religious ones, pay for contraceptive coverage in their medical insurance plans.
Opponents of Georgetown's move have collected 27,000 signatures against Sebelius as a speaker, and Washington's archdiocese criticized the decision in a statement released yesterday.
Calling the decision "unfortunate,' the archdiocese accused Georgetown officials of "disregard for the bishops and so many others across the nation who are committed to the defense of freedom of religion." The statement also said it is "understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops."
Georgetown officials have pointed out that the invitation of Sebelius occurred before the new regulations were released.
"The Secretary's presence on our campus should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views," Georgetown President John DeGioia added in a statement.