Archdiocese of Washington speaks out over choice of Kathleen Sebelius as Speaker at Georgetown University

The Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop Barry Knestout forwarded the following editorial from the Catholic Standard, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese. He asked the we priests share it in any way we deem appropriate with the people of the Archdiocese. In this matter.

Many of you write me and ask when and if the Archdiocese will speak out on this or that matter. In this matter, I am able to report that it has. And frankly the editorial pull no punches, as you will see. The original text is below in bold black italics. My comments are in plain red text. The original article is here: and a PDF of it is here: Disappointed but Not Surprised

Late last Friday, Georgetown University announced that U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is the featured speaker for an awards ceremony at the University’s Public Policy Institute. This news is a disappointment but not a surprise.

As is well known, Secretary Sebelius is the architect of the “HHS mandate”, now federal law, which requires all employers — including religious institutions — to provide health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptives for its employees and redefines religious ministry to exclude Catholic social services, hospitals and universities if they serve or employ non-Catholics. Given her position, it is disappointing that she would be the person that Georgetown University would choose to honor.

Founded in 1789 by John Carroll, a Jesuit priest, Georgetown University has, historically speaking, religious roots. So, too, do Harvard, Princeton and Brown. Over time, though, as has happened with these Ivy League institutions, Georgetown has undergone a secularization, due in no small part to the fact that much of its leadership and faculty find their inspiration in sources other than the Gospel and Catholic teaching. Many are quite clear that they reflect the values of the secular culture of our age. Thus the selection of Secretary Sebelius for special recognition, while disappointing, is not surprising.

Pay close attention to this paragraph. The editorial, while not using canonical language,  in effect sets forth the view that Georgetown has largely become a secular University, along the line of Harvard, Yale et al. It goes even further, stating that the primary source of inspiration at Georgetown is not the Gospel or Catholic teaching, but instead, is other unnamed sources.

To be clear, there are surely some very fine teachers and students on campus. I know at least several who are striving to maintain some semblance of Catholic identity there. It remains true that Mass is still offered on campus, but that is true of Secular universities as well.

So, what is Catholic about Georgetown? Very little, it would seem by the editorial’s assessment. This assessment, I know, many of you will share, in the wake of one discouragement after another emanating from the campus of Georgetown.

Blessed John Paul II, in his 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, invites Catholic universities into a relationship of faith and excellence. He calls them to share in the Church’s task of bringing the Gospel and Christian values into the culture of our day.

He reminds us that a Catholic university is “a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism… Moreover, all the basic academic activities of a Catholic University are connected with and in harmony with the evangelizing mission of the Church,” among them, “dialogue with culture that makes the faith better understood” (ECE I: B.4.49).

Basic Catholic Mission stuff here. Sadly Georgetown and many other Catholic Universities are not clear on “Job 1.”

One can only wonder how the selection of Secretary Sebelius for such a prominent role as a featured speaker can be reconciled with the stated Catholic mission and identity of Georgetown University. Secretary Sebelius’ vision on what constitutes faith-based institutions presents the most direct challenge to religious freedom in recent history.

Yes, I wonder if Georgetown and others who think like this, have any  idea where intrusive government will end? It does not take a prophet to see that if the Federal Government can intrude on a matter like this (Catholic sexual and life teachings) which many at Georgetown sniff at, that the same Government will be back with more demands.

And these demands, the faculty and administration at Georgetown may be less sanguine about. Who is to say and more conservative administration could not demand that Georgetown teach, facilitate, and fund abstinence based programs as part of a healthcare mandate, or perhaps that they require all students and employees to contribute to and pay for a pro-life crisis pregnancy center to help bring babies to term, and that they fund an adoption agency on campus to encourage single moms to adopt their children to intact families. What if all this was in a future health care mandate that sought to preserve and foster the lives of infants and Georgetown was required to pay for all this?

I doubt Georgetown faculty and staff would be so sanguine about this, and say, “Well of course Government knows best, and if Government calls this women, infant and children’s healthcare, who are we to say no?” No, I rather doubt Georgetown would be inviting the HHS Secretary from a conservative administration proposing this. If they did, the protests would be so thick, that he or she couldn’t even get on campus.

But wake up Georgetown! You celebrate a woman who is helping to gut religious liberty. But your religious liberty is just as much on the line as any one else’s. Uncle Sam will be back, and you might not be so pleased the next time. Time for sobriety Georgetown.

On the same weekend that the Georgetown announcement was made, Pope Benedict XVI spoke of the importance of Catholic education and the intellectual and cultural challenges of the New Evangelization in the context of contemporary American society. The Holy Father recalled that during his pastoral visit to America in April 2008, in his homily at the Mass at Nationals Stadium, he called on the Church in America to cultivate “a mindset, an intellectual culture which
is genuinely Catholic”. Last weekend he reiterated the need for American Catholic institutions of higher learning to commit to “building a society ever more solidly grounded in an authentic humanism inspired by the Gospel and faithful to the highest values of America’s civic and cultural heritage”.

With all of the people struggling so hard to preserve freedom of religion, and with all that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has said in defense of this important value, Georgetown’s choice of the architect of the radical challenge of such freedom for special recognition can only be seen as a statement of where the university stands – certainly not with the Catholic bishops. Clear and unambiguous

Georgetown University’s response to the commencement speaker decision is disappointing, but not surprising. When the vision guiding university choices does not clearly reflect the light of the Gospel and authentic Catholic teaching, there are, of course, disappointing results.

In other words, the fruit does not fall far from the tree. And the editorial could not be more clear, the vision at Georgetown is not the Gospel and it is not Catholic teaching.

So who wrote this? The editorial is unsigned. But the Catholic Standard is the official paper of the Archdiocese of Washington. As such it is a recognized voice of the Archdiocese and editorials like this are not published without review by the Cardinal’s senior staff.

I hope you will agree that the editorial lays out a very serious need for soul searching at Georgetown. And, while some of you may wish that universities like Georgetown would have long ago been censured and/or had their Catholic identity officially removed, that involves extensive and careful canonical procedures. I have no knowledge that any such actions are underway or have ever been tried in the past. And such matters are wholly left to the pastoral discretion of the bishops. I think we ought to allow the bishops their rightful prudential judgements in these sorts of matters and not be too hypercritical of them. They know a lot more than we ever will, and they have a bigger picture in mind as well, as they try to hold everyone as close to Christ as possible.

In your comments please consider charity, and remain prayerful about this matter, as I know most of you do.

This video is from the Cardinal Newman Society

58 Replies to “Archdiocese of Washington speaks out over choice of Kathleen Sebelius as Speaker at Georgetown University”

  1. Praise God. God Bless you Bishop Knestout. There are many faithful Catholics that are ready to stand up for the truth but we need the Bishops to lead us.

    Has this response by Bishop Knestout been sent to the Washington Post?
    Has the Cardinal endorsed it?
    When are the Bishops going to address Mrs. Pelosi, Msrs. Biden, and O’Malley and all of the other unfaithful Catholic politicians?

    It is time for the Church to stand up and be strong. Please be strong in your leadership.

  2. Dear Cardinal Archbishop,

    Thank you for these strong words.

    Please, Cardinal Archbishop, we desperately need you to resist this onslaught against the Church!

  3. The editorial is unsigned. But the Catholic Standard is the official paper of the Archdiocese of Washington. As such it is a recognized voice of the Archdiocese and editorials like this are not published without review by the Cardinal’s senior staff.

    Ex Corde Ecclesiae itself recognized that, even when not part of the internal governance of universities within their dioceses, the respective bishops of those dioceses are not “external agents” but are “participants in the life of the Catholic University.” More specifically, “Each Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic Universities in his diocese and has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. If problems should arise conceming this Catholic character, the local Bishop is to take the initiatives necessary to resolve the matter, working with the competent university authorities in accordance with established procedures and, if necessary, with the help of the Holy See.” Art. 5, Sec. 2.

    Georgetown is and has been for DECADES extremely confused with respect to Catholic teaching and the concept of a Catholic identity. How many more students and instructors and administrators must suffer the scandal of thusly being misled,

  4. Make no mistake, Georgetown is a hotbed of relativism.

    An apparent favorite quote of its president, John deGioia, is from St. Augustine, which he has used to justify the promotion of views contrary to Catholic teaching. He used the quote in a circulated e-mail defending Georgetown student Sandra Fluke’s confused testimony on the contraceptive mandate, and he has used it to welcome students. But instead of providing the full context of the quote, and instead of explaining it, again, he uses it to justify relativism —
    “Let us, on both sides, lay aside all arrogance. Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth. Let us seek it together as something which is known to neither of us. For then only may we seek it, lovingly and tranquilly, if there be no bold presumption that it is already discovered and possessed.”

    DeGioia, whose role it is as president of the University, and as a Catholic, to lead people toward truth has done students and the community at large a great disservice by formenting moral confusion and misleading people away from the truth. For example, he misleads and distorts when he quotes St. Augustine, “Let us not, on either side, claim that we have already discovered the truth,” to justify a never-ending exercise in relativism, a counterfeit search for truth that actually denies the existence of truth.

    In truth, as a matter of the Catholic Faith, we HAVE discovered the Truth, and His name is Jesus Christ, “the way, the truth, and the life.” This truth embraced by the Church is not merely one truth among many, and to suggest the falacious idea of relativsm as deGioia does is to keep people in the oppression of darkness.

    DeGioia further sowed moral confusion with his characterization of Ms. Fluke’s testimony as an “expression of conscience” that was “in the tradition of the deepest values we share as a people.” Rather, such advocacy was the antithesis of authentic conscience, much less a good conscience (and it is a good conscience that is consistent with objective truth to which we are called, not a bad or ill-informed counterfeit conscience).

    When one reads the full remarks of Augustine in context, one can see just how disingenuous and intellectually dishonest deGioia is in using that quote. In fact, Augustine said these things in the course of trying to persuade people away from Manicheanism and toward that which is the Truth. Specifically, he talks about how he too once was a Manichean and held to all of these false ideas, so he can sympathize and will be patient, and will, purely for purposes of argument only, will begin that argument (in favor of the Truth of the Catholic Faith), from the beginning, without insisting on any premises.

    In other words, what Augustine really said was “I know the truth. I have the truth. The truth has, in fact, been discovered. But in trying to convince you of that truth, I simply won’t arrogantly impose that truth on you. Rather, I will lead you by the hand, step-by-step, so that you can discover that truth yourself, meanwhile refuting the errors and evils of Manicheanism.” Then Augustine goes on to explain just exactly what the truth is which he has already discovered.

    But does deGioia do that? Does he then seek to lead people to truth? No. Instead, in denying that a Catholic university has no special possession of truth, he leaves them to wander in the desert forever in the search for truth.

    But it really, really, really should not be some nobody named Bender providing these much needed correctives to the Georgetown administration. It should be the bishops of this Archdiocese. Openly. Specifically. Directly. The spiritual well-being of the members of the Georgetown community are at risk here. Low key responses are not enough. Simply listening to the nonsensical gibberish that was Georgetown student Sandra Fluke’s testimony should have set off alarm bells all across the Office of the Archbishop, leading everyone in authority to wonder “what in the world are they teaching over there at Georgetown that she could be so confused and backward here?”

    What are they teaching? They are teaching relativism. They are teaching scandal. They are leading people, together with people’s eternal souls, away from truth and away from the faith and away from God. More must be done.

    1. Yes, this sort of stuff is pretty typical at a lot of college campi – to include most Catholic colleges. Quoting Augustine out of context like that is also typical of the lame scholarship on most college campuses where ideology has taken the place of true scholarship.

  5. Here in the Philippines, The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) from the very start is in Partnership with the National Council of Laity. They Laity is also part of the output of the Conference. So, any Official Statement will be issued it is always clear to the all Churches here in the our country. And definitely our Catholic Churches here is in Union with the Magisterium. I guess you must also flow like this, so as the faithful Laity will not be disappointed. W e must remember that the Church is not only the Bishops,Priests and Nuns. Laity (Adults & Youth) counts too, in the Body of Christ.

    1. Sounds like a good model,especially in matters of the temporal order. Regarding Georgetown for example, I wonder if laity have ever tried to organize and seek to influence the alumni of Georgetown to cease financial contributions until Gtown cleans up its act? This is something that is more appropriate for the laity to organize. Further, the Cardinal Newman Society who video is here has done a lot of good work to influence the laity on college choices.

    2. +JMJ+

      Thanks for your post Alicia. I have been to the Philippines 5 times. My wife is from the Philippines(married almost 21 yrs) and I have often said to others here in the US that the Philippine Bishops are stalwart defenders of the faith and that our Bishops could learn from them. If we could get Perpetual Adoration started in more Parishes here in the US, Catholics here would recognize more clearly how much heresy there is around us.

      God Bless.

  6. I agree with Bender. The nonsense has gone on too long

    Catholic teaching on the role a university plays in promoting the truth is not hard to find. What is difficult to find is a place where that role is being faithfully implemented, other than a handful of schools around the nation. If the Archdiocese meant the editorial to be merely a catechetical tool to teach the faithful, then so be it. But after reading this, I sincerely doubt the the folks at Georgetown are recoiling in horror and desperately thinking of ways to make amends.

  7. Msgr. Pope,

    Why can’t those university leaders who reject Catholicism in favor of secularism be removed? Why are those politicians who openly and legislatively support abortion not denied the sacraments of the Church? I realize that the Church does not want to trigger a round of newsppaper editorials and media pundits attacking the Church for a so-called “modern day Inquisition,” but at what point does the magesterium mean something? At what point does the Church assert that you cannot advocate the slaughter of the unborn and still be a “good Catholic”?

    I believe such a clear, principled stand by the Church coupled with the declaration that the Church calls all of its sometimes wayward children back to the truth promised through the apostolic sucession would be most therapeutic. What have all the readings since Easter said: “I am the true vine and you are the branches; unless you abide in me you will bear no fruit.” There must come a time when the apostolic voice of the Church is enforced through consequences for those who reject that apostolic voice.

    The consequences imposed upon such apostates is not for mere punishment sake but also to call them back to the Church. I truly believe that if I were Mrs. Sebelius or Mrs. Pelosi, and my priest denied me the Body and Blood of Jesus Christ, I would most gravely consider the state of my political beliefs and the state of my soul. I believe I would ask to meet with my priest or bishop and seek to understand what I must do to assure that I die in a state of grace.

    1. I am not a canonist, but I know that it is not as simple as the bishop lowering the boom. You may remember that some years ago Cardinal O’Boyle lowered the boom, and was, sadly, set back by Rome for having, it would seem, violated canonical procedure and the canonical rights of others. There are procedures, and even erring Catholics have rights under canon law. There is due process etc.

      I realize this is frustrating for those who want quick action, but the usual stance of the Catholic Church for many Centuries, probably since Constantine, is to think in Centuries, not weeks and months. Things move slowly, especially according to our face-paced media culture. But who are you or I to say that is the worst thing in the world since the Church has been around so long and almost always done business this way. Perhaps there is a wisdom to slow and careful change. Frankly, Bishops are most often cautious men, carefully weighing and considering many things (likely, a good number of things we know little about). And who are you or I to say that is so terrible since these are generally the sort of men the Holy Spirit advances to the order of Bishop and that the Church generally looks to.

      I have written before on the concept of fraternal correction and largely agree with your insights, but there are many prudential factors to weigh beyond the individual, especially in the case of public figures. It would seem that the bishops have generally adopted a reserved posture in such cases since, instead of seeing and understanding correction, the modern largely liberal media culture would see and announce “politics” and declare martyrdom upon such “sainted” public officials who were disciplined by the Church.

      I would surely hope regarding officials such as K. Sebelius that her pastor or local Bishop has in fact met with her privately and both warned her of divine judgement (for her support and funding of abortion) and advised her not to receive communion. We ought not presume this has not in fact taken place but understand that it was done privately.

      But the bottom line is that these matters we are discussing are prudential matters and reasonable men and women will differ on what to do. Everyone, it seems, knows how to run the Church better than the bishops 🙂 But there is an essential truth to be humbly accepted that every one who is not a bishop ought to recall: “I am not the bishop…and there is probably a very good reason the Lord has for that.”

      1. Msgr. Pope,

        I appreciate your very patient and wise reply. I believe you have raised many worthy points for consideration. There are many members of the Body of Christ who feel very passionately for the truths that have been passed down and view with horror the abortion of the unborn, but as a member of the laity (most definitely not a bishop!!), I must defer to the bishops and cardinals. The Lord has many ways of realizing His sovereign will. From the martyrdom of the gentle and faithful Deacon Stephen came the Apostle Paul who turned the world upside down. Who would have thought that a man like Paul (Saul) manning the rock concession at Stephen’s stoning would have become the author of the beautiful epsitles we have and the one who established so many churches around the Mediterranean world at the time?

        None of us will understand the events of our day and the actions of those involved, including ourselves, until the Lamb’s Book of Life is opened and we stand before the Great White Throne.

        Thank you for your gentle admonishment and as always the insightful points you provide through this blog.

      2. I can understand the position of the Church to think in centuries. Unfortunately, no one lives that long. So where would that leave an individual soul such as Sebelius? If her priest/bishop has spoken to her about her conduct, adn she simply ignores it, what then? Can her soul (and her Bishop’s soul for that matter) afford to wait centuries for the Church to decide? That seems to be the immediate question.

        1. Good questions. But can’t you also apply them all to God. Why does God do nothing when evil and error are rampant. I’m not trying to glibly dismiss your concerns, I share them. You may recall the parable about the weeds and wheat and the Lord’s instruction to let them grow together to the harvest. Maybe I’ll blog on that tonight. I do not have simple answers to any of this except to say that many things are held in balance. I have wrestled with God for years of these questions, and I will say I have gotten peace, but not answers….God simply doesn’t act on our time table, your questions (and my similar ones) notwithstanding.

  8. Just asking, what is wrong with Jesuit universities? They always seem to be on the side of those promoting heresy, anti-Catholic ideas and undermining Catholic beliefs. Any good and orthodox Jesuit university in the States? I briefly toyed with the idea of pursuing graduate studies at Georgetown but later changed my mind even though as a Ugandan lawyer, it would have been a great addition to my cv. Instead, I was admitted to NYU and could not take up my place because they are not as generous in terms of funding as Georgetown. But again, I don’t miss it since it seems I would have spent most of my time there ( if I got in) engaging in argumentation about the Catholic faith with those who should know better.

  9. As an oft-curmudgeon on this blog, I will give credit where credit is due. This is solid and much-appreciated. I applaud Cardinal Wuerl and his team for being courageous and strong here.

  10. I was a resident in the Georgetown University Hospital’s Internal Medicine training program and neurology program about 25 years ago. While my direct contact was more with the medical school and hospital then the undergraduate college, since they are physically adjacent, I had enough contact with the College to have a gotten the flavor of it. 25 years ago it was in many ways, a thoroughly secularized place. There were perhaps a few islands of Catholicism left. One recalls the evening mass said by the Late Father Thomas King SJ, who was founder of the “faculty for life”. I was a regular visitor to his 11:15 PM mass on Sunday night. It was typically packed, One used to hear the college kids joke about it being the very last chance to get the Sunday obligation done! I doubt this was the real reason.. after all many of the kids could just as easily choose to stay home. What was striking to me is the fact that he was unabashedly and aggressively pro-life, and still the young liberal undergrads piled into the Church, as did not a few left wing adults living in the Georgetown area. And what they might hear in the homily ! He was the type priest who just might use the words abortion and murder in the same sentence. I always wondered at his willingness to be as outspoken as he was, when it seemed like many present, one might guess, would possibly not want to hear what he had to say. Maybe the students and the Georgetown crowd choose to overlook his pro-life stance because in many ways, probably most, he was otherwise politically liberal, but I rarely heard him speak from the pulpit on the traditionally liberal causes he favored. I suspect he knew the difference between what he favored as public policy, and what he saw as an absolute moral norm. I can only imagine how difficult it was for him to break with his political companions on this issue. There are probably a few people at the USCCB who could learn from this. I think what was attractive was that he delivered his message, on the gospels regardless of what he was talking about in a way that did not hedge, and pulled no punches. This sort of approach has an undeniable appeal. There was no question also about his personal devotion to the mass. Sitting in the pew if you were struggling with thoughts like “Can this really be anything but bread?” You were at least pretty certain Fr. King had no doubt what was going on. In any case I did not know him personally, but I do recall that his 11:15 Mass was one of the things that helped me prepare for a long week ahead. I recalled him when I read the editorial above. A couple of years ago I read in some alumni publication that Father King died (May God rest his soul). I suspect given the latest move by Georgetown that the last faint flickers of Catholicism have died as well.

    The editorial is a step in the right direction of pointing this out. There are some mildly troubling things about it… ( Why no signature? ) But overall it hits the right notes. I do not think this is likely to change Georgetown’s behavior, but it is important for the Bishops to begin to recognize and call attention to the fact that many of the traditional Catholic Universities are not in any sense Catholic. Many places like Georgetown will embrace their secularism, and the rest of us can abandon them to their faith. We should most definitely abandon them financially and not send our kids there ! I often get calls and letters from the alumni office asking for donations. I have responded they will get one, when there is some vague hint of Catholicism rising from the ashes. After this Sebellius move.. I am permanently writing them off… I can take a hint. IF they survive as part of the secular culture of death, then so be it for now.. God will deal with them in the end (“lake of fire” and all that business… at least that’s the story ) A few of them might take the wake up call seriously and reinvigorate their Catholicism. If any do, they can take some heart from the example of the late Fr King. The students seem to like their Catholicism straight up..

  11. Thank you, Cardinal Wuhrl, for addressing through the archidocesan newspaper the issue of Georgetown University honoring the Secretary of HHS. My fear is that no one outside of the readers of that newspaper will even be aware that you have addressed the issue. If the popular media outlets (ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, the NYT & the Washington Post, etc.) do not publish or refer to your editorial, 80+% of the US news-reading population will be unaware of your statement of principle. I would not have known had I not read this specific blog (having already been to the WaPo website this a.m.) I pray your editorial will cause such a commotion it will not be able to be avoided.

  12. I really admire our Holy Father for refusing, after he had met with Nancy Pelosi, to have his picture taken with her. Sometimes, I think for some of these big shots, the photo op is more important than the reason why they are there.

  13. Just curious, what if any say does the Archdiocese have in the selection of leaders for Catholic universities within its jurisdiction?

  14. When will the pope replace the Superior General of the Jesuits or suppress the Jesuits in the United States? There is no doubt with the activities underway at BC (inviting Victoria Kennedy to speak at the Law School after a local bishop requested that she be dropped from speaking at Anna Maria; harboring dissidents like Paul Lakeland (Fairfield U.) and Daniel Maguire (Marquette), who this week attacked the Church’s teaching on homosexual marriage in the secular media; last month’s conference at Santa Clara on “Sexuality and Social Justice”) that the American Jesuits have declared war on the bishops. What Benedict XVI wants to happen at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities will not happen until the Jesuits are out of the way.

  15. “you may wish that universities like Georgetown would have long ago been censured and/or had their Catholic identity officially removed”
    Not likely, as long as the Hoyas remain competitive in NCAA roundball.

  16. Those of us who are senior citizens and have donated to various charities and colleges may want to rethink which institutions we support. I give to institutions that support and educate in matters that I believe in. Relativism and killing of the unborn are not areas that I can support. if Georgetown, Loyola and similar colleges no longer teach and share the Catholic faith, let them go elsewhere for donations.

    1. All universities have some level of dependence on the largess of alumni and other donors – and often He Who Has the Gold Makes the Rules. Whether Georgetown can truly be a Catholic institution may depend on who has more money…those who support a Catholic mission or those who think Catholic teaching is “behind the times.”

        1. That shouldn’t stop a Catholic University to start acting this way. Your analyses of Power and money have no place where it involves a Catholic Institution and the development of Catholic Students. How will they learn? How will they become the Catholics Why are other Catholic Colleges doing fine without a power grab? I don’t need to name them all but they are there… So what your saying is, “The Church is not in control, Judas is?”

          1. I suppose all your arguments could be applied to God as well, could they not? I mean, if all these bad things are going on in the world, and all this error, who’s really in charge God? For Judas? Or Satan? My point is, your demands for swift and sweeping action, while understandable, are not The Way, God really works either are they? The reasons of his own, God often delays. I understand your frustration based on your perception that there has not been swift and sweeping action, but before dismissing the wisdom of such an approach with ontological certainty, it might be good to ponder that God himself often delays, even when there are very negative immediate consequences. At least keep this in the balance while you make your own swift and sweeping conclusions about the way the bishops should be operating. I am not saying that they should never act, and I am not saying God never acts, but at least balance your considerations with these reflections

    1. Perhaps it was written by committee 🙂

      Actually, I think it important that the editorial come across as representing the view of the Diocese as a whole, and not just an individual.

  17. I am a product of Jesuit education, and from my vantage point, I see the Society of Jesus as a schizophrenic order.

    On one hand, the order does incredibly courageous missionary work…living in squalor in some of the most impoverished areas of the world bringing hope and salvation to some of the most downtrodden people in the entire world. They truly are helping build “THE” Kingdom. Specifically, I have to mention the late Father Ed Brady SJ who spent much of his life in the Sudan teaching in an underground seminary. (Father Brady, pray for me.)

    On the other hand, the order teaches (largely) privileged youth how to be almost fully immersed in the world by building “A” kingdom.

    Alas, I don’t think the Jesuits are all by themselves and it’s getting worse not better.

    But, what do I know? I’m just a cook. Would you like fries with that opinion?

  18. If The Archdiocese believes and knows that Georgetown is “far from being Catholic”, than why not strip it’s Catholic Identity? Why prolong the scandal? Why?

    1. Even Georgetown has canonical rites and canonical procedures involve more than a bishop swinging his crozier from the chair. It can be done, but it must be done carefully and right. Ask the late Cardinal O’Boyle. Also put in a question to Ed Peters at “in the Light of the Law” blog.

      1. If this says that Georgetown has acted in this manner for a “Very long time”, then no cordinal would be swinging a crozier but following the long long process already … So where am I going wrong in this assessment?

  19. Msgr Pope,

    In my world, if a limb of the body is infected we treat with antibiotics, debride gingerly and watch and wait hopefully for a return to health. If the limb becomes necrotic, gangrenous or unsalvageable, we have to amputate to prevent to body as whole from becoming septic which obviously threatens the patient’s life. I initially thought that analogy was appropriate to the way the Church should approach not only Georgetown, but the people in power who are ostensibly Catholic but obviously misguided.

    But then I read your comment about how the Bishop’s think in terms of centuries. Maybe it is not such a good analogy after all. There is a groundswell of grass roots support for the Church that is brewing. With a ‘tincture of time’, and a lot of prayer, we have to hope that these institutions and leaders of these institutions see the importance of adherence to the tenants of our faith and change. Unlike the human body, the Church will not die, Christ stated that He would not leave us as orphans. I think the bishops got it right. Thanks for a great column.


  20. First it was SAPIENTIA CHRISTIANA in the early 1970’s and that was Dead on Arrival. Then it was EX CORDE ECCLESIAE and that died on the vine. These schools have known for decades that they faced no penalties and now they are gone.

  21. Post and comments interesting and informative. Yet, we want these “former” Catholic institutions changed by having punishments applied from the outside. What if we trained our children in the correct methodology of orthodox Catholicism and then sent them to these instiutions? What if the good Catholic students who were enrolled at the Georgetowns, Notre Dames, Fordhams began to write letters to the local bishops and complained about the anti-Catholic teachings going on at the campus that was supported by the administration? What would the bishops do if these young Catholic minds were begging for help at these Catholic instiutions because professors, faculty and staff were leading them astray and towards hell? What if the bishops suddenly had baskets full of complaints with specific instances of anti-Catholic teachings going on at the school? What if parents of these students also wrote letters to the bishops and complained about anti-Catholic garbage being taught to their children? What if we fight the anti-Catholic faculty, staff and administration from the inside, on their own turf, and kick their butts off our beloved Catholic institutions. We can do this but it will take time, money and sacrifice. As a group, we allowed this bad change to happen. As the same group, we can take it back. With the help of the local bishops, we can take these once great Catholic institutions and make them once again the great CATHOLIC institutions they once were. Send your great Catholic children to these institutions and let the battle begin.

  22. As a resident of Kansas who had the unfortunate experience of having Kathleen Sebelius as both Insurance Commissioner and as Governor, I wonder if those at Georgetown who selected her have an inkling of her history here. One of the largest sources of funding for her state candidacies was the abortion industry, and in particular, one of the practitioners of the infanticide known as partial birth abortion, George Tiller, who she hosted at the Governor’s mansion complete with photographs after her election as Governor. That any supposedly Catholic Institution would invite her to anything beyond the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a scandal that requires reaction beyond words. I urge those who support Georgetown financially to prayerfully consider if that is something they should continue.

    1. I wonder if those at Georgetown who selected her have an inkling of her history here

      She was invited to speak at the Public Policy Institute. While one cannot read minds, one can make a reasonable evidentiary conclusion that, from who they are, that they knew. One can also reasonably conclude, again from who they are, that her history is precisely the reason that she was invited.

  23. Our Church has lost the respect it once had. To regain it–we need our Bishops, priests, sisters, schools, universities and the laity to unite and uphold Catholic teaching. That is the only way we can turn the tide.

  24. It is such a joy to see a successor to the Apostles acting like one! Continue to guard the precious deposit of faith that has been handed down to us. Tragically, it is being increasingly sliced, diced, and diluted in our society today by many — including some who call themselves “Catholic.” Thank you, Bishop!

  25. I sincerely hope that the speakers fees for Ms. Sebelius to speak at the upcoming Georgetown graduation ceremonies, are NOT in any way used directly or indirectly from the annual Archbishops appeal!

    She along with Ms. Pelosi, the O’Malleys of Maryland, and Mr. Biden, should be banned from the Catholic church for their arrogance toward Church doctrine.

    1. Why would the speaker’s fees have anything to do with the annual Archbishop’s appeal? I guess many people do not realize that colleges and universities (as well as religious orders) do not receive anything from diocesan appeals. It is a shame that they invited Ms. Sebelius to speak. The donors to the university can take action if they wish.

  26. Thank you Monsignor for your insightful responses on how even offending universities like Georgetown have canonical rites & procedures that protect them. Your example of what happened to Cardinal Boyle was informative in explaining the reticence of the bishops in taking what the laity might perceive as courageous action. If you can’t be assured of the backing of Rome, you can’t be sure that you are truly serving Christ.

    Considering that, it seems that we, as the laity, continue to be at the mercy of a poor education as to why our church hierarchy continues to exhibit a lack of effective leadership when we need it most. Perhaps what we need is to understand the very confusing situation regarding the pastoral care we are blessed with. What is apparent to most of the laity conflicts with the lack of action by our bishop as shepherds. If prayer & fasting are the only actions we are to take, even they don’t seem to be regularly encouraged in a persevering manner. The response of the USCCB to the current impending coercive force of the HHS mandate has only been mildly noteworthy. If the secular Supreme Court exhibits its power & doesn’t rule against the mandate, how will the bishops respond?

    From all the seemingly weak leadership we have gotten over the past 50+ years regarding coordinated action to protest the advance of the sexual revolution, can we really expect that the bishops will display any credible power to rally the laity & religious to really make any difference in the application of that despicable law?

    There may be the analogy that our leadership has permitted themselves, like Christ, to be crucified & offered up to God for our sins. There may be some measure of explanation from that. But where are Christ’s teachings put into effect when he asks us to witness and defend the weakest among us? We are regularly mindful that St. James advises, “Faith without works is dead.”

    What will be the effect on those of us in the pew that recognize the law’s coercive implications on us as a faith community? How can we be considered a flock when our shepherds aren’t able to separate the goats from the sheep? If nothing else, educate us in how we are to fulfill our Catholic faith obligations to being obedient Christians to the magisterium in the face of dealing with insidious laws that violate our consciences.

  27. Editor of the Catholic Standard should reread: Land O Lakes Conference and Statement.

  28. Msgr. Pope, thank you for adding your thoughts in red. “If the trumpet sounds an unrecognizable call, who will prepare for battle.”

  29. Woody is right on…send students that have already been given the Catholic Doctrine at home and hope they can “indoctrinate’ the university.

  30. I know in Arkansas, Mercy Medical center is already adopting Obama care..
    When I went to see my Oncologist, I went to the front desk, the Secretary handed me a piece of paper and said “its Obama” On this paper was every country of origin your ancestry could have come from..You were to check off all places your family originated from…I refused ..when waiting for my doctor on my radiology report, his nurse came in and video taped me and said ” don’t you want your picture taken?” I said “no”..She said “why not?” I said “no”..I then realized as i have the same camera she was video taping me as the zoom lens was out..You may say this is off the subject but it in no way is ..A Catholic Medical Center that used to be called Saint Mary;s Was taken over by a Corporation and is now called Mercy Medical..They have implemented Obama care even though it is in the hands of the Supreme Court..My rights were violated by this Corporation and my own Doctor, his Nurse and Administrator..Bishop Taylor should be aware of what is happening to our Catholic Hospital here in His own Diocese in Arkansas..We will all need to stand up and speak up at all these injustices. No matter how big or how small..If you give them a Inch they will steal a mile or 1000 miles..Lets stop this now at the onset of it all. I never received a copy of my ct scan which is always provided..Please pray for me that the Cancer hasn’t and will never come back! As for Georgetown University all students from every Christian School should be out protesting Kathleen Sebelius and her Culture of death stance..All i hear from this administration is abortion, abortion, sterilization, same sex marriage. Homosexuality and the ones behind all this simply call it Population Control, They will stop at nothing to persuade people into believing in there so called Utopia..There is no Secular Utopia! In the Obama care Mandate is the RDIF chip that he wants planted in Every ones hand by March 13 2013 and Romney is no Different. I’am a devout Traditional Roman Catholic and I will always with the Grace of our Lord adhere to the true dogma’s of our faith..We also do have a choice and a voice that has been silenced by the media and that is Congressman Dr. Ron Paul, Who has brought over 4000 babies into this world and will strive to get Abortion out of the Federal Government and he is winning delegates so fast people’s eye’s are opening.He is over flowing Stadiums even though the media lied and said he with drew his campaign, He never did that.I truly believe that Congressman Ron Paul has been brought forth at this time by God to lead us, Ron Paul the champion of our Constitution ..The Media is so not telling the truth..I will vote for the real pro life Candidate if i and millions more have to write him in on the Ballot..I will never have innocent blood on my hands when i meet my maker!!!..We need to win these Battles one by one against this tide of evil and darkness To push it back and away from our Nation.So American can once again be a beacon of light for the rest of the World. One Nation Under God indivisible with Liberty and Justice for all !

  31. Honesty, Your response is very insightful. Regarding voting, I fully agree that one must vote for the
    candidate who best promises to fulfill moral teachings, regardless if that candidate will win or not. We are
    called to be faithful, not successful. If we follow God’s will, He will take care of the rest. At present, Dr.
    Ron Paul is the only candidate who will fight for life, and will try to rectify unjust laws imposed by the current regime.

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