Amid controversy, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius delivered a telling speech to graduates at Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute. Using the presidency of John F. Kennedy, the first Roman Catholic president, as an illustration of an “intersection” of religious freedom and public policy, Secretary Sebelius referred to the separation of church and state as “a fundamental principle in our unique democracy.” Indeed, the secretary’s choice of words is interesting given the fact that she is a member of an administration that is forcing a federal mandate upon Catholic organizations, and those of other faiths, which is against the basic teachings of those faiths.
Sebelius, who was interrupted several times during her address by anti-abortion protestors, urged graduates to hold onto their “commitment to work for the common good.” The secretary said:
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.
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.
The secretary, who advanced the HHS mandate that has been rejected by the Catholic Church and other faiths because it forces religious-affiliated organizations to provide free contraceptive services and drugs to employees, was invited to speak by Georgetown University’s first lay president, Dr. John DeGioia, who was rebuked for his invitation by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington D.C. A petition to bring a canon lawsuit against the university has also been initiated by Exorcist author William Peter Blatty, a Georgetown alumnus.
The secretary’s address, in which she describes our “system” as one that “requires conversations that can be painful,” but “almost always ends in compromise” seems quite consistent with the philosophy of moral relativism, and the denial of the existence of a rule of law.
What a sad and misleading message, given at a Catholic university, to young men and women about to embark upon adulthood and careers in public service.
The full text of the secretary’s speech can be seen here.