A May 10 editorial in the archdiocese newspaper called the decision “disappointing, but not surprising.”
President DeGioia defended the invitation in a May 14 statement. He said that the university is “committed to the free exchange of ideas” and was not attempting to endorse Sebelius’ views or challenge the U.S. bishops.
However, Peters argued that there is a difference between discussing ideas in an academic setting and offering someone a public platform to speak, which is “what we use to honor people.”
“There’s no one protesting Sebelius just coming in the audience,” he explained. However, “she doesn’t have the right to be put in a place of authority and to be part of the teaching office that universities hold.”
Brendan Gottschall, a member of the class of 2012, called the invitation “a misrepresentation of Georgetown’s Catholic identity and community.”
He said that there are many Catholics on campus who do not agree with the decision to honor Sebelius.
Deirdre Lawler, who works for the university’s Tocqueville Forum on the Roots of American Democracy, said the invitation “is nothing less than a scandal and a blow to unity within the Church."
“There are no two ways to read this,” she explained. “Georgetown University, which proudly wears the title of a Catholic institution, is bestowing an honor upon a woman who has essentially declared herself at war with the bishops and all who hold religious freedom dear.”
Lawler said that as a staff member of the university, she is “ashamed of the institution.” Given the current situation between Sebelius’ department and the Catholic Church, she does not believe that Georgetown can “host and honor Sebelius in good conscience.”
“This invitation ought to have been rescinded in the name of fidelity to the Church, in the name of religious freedom, and in the name of Truth,” Lawler said.
“I hope that President DiGioia does take some time to flip through the many, many pages of signatures we left on his desk, just so that he understands what a huge number of people are willing to speak up in fidelity to the Church.”
(Story continues below)
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