Georgetown draws fire for graduation speaker


WASHINGTON -- The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and the Cardinal Newman Society have started petitions urging Georgetown University to rescind its invitation to Kathleen Sebelius, secretary of health and human services, to speak at the Jesuit university's May 18 diploma ceremony of its Public Policy Institute.

The Becket Fund is critical of Ms. Sebelius' instrumental role in imposing the federal mandate on health-care coverage that U.S. Catholic bishops have called an infringement on religious liberties.

The Becket Fund has filed several lawsuits against the Department of Health and Human Sservices over the mandate, which will require all employers, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to provide insurance coverage to their employees for free sterilizations, contraception, and abortion-inducing drugs.

"Secretary Sebelius has declared that she is 'in a war' with those whose religious beliefs about abortion and contraception are different from her own," the Becket petition states. "Georgetown should not associate itself with this attack on religious liberty."

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, called the invitation "scandalous and outrageous," and said "Georgetown insults all Americans by this honor."