Short Takes On News & Events

Sebelius Tells Georgetown Students To Follow Their ‘Own Moral Compass’

By Christian Torres

May 18th, 2012, 1:59 PM

About 200 students earned degrees this year from Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, but most of the attention at Friday’s graduation ceremony was focused on one person: Kathleen Sebelius.

The Health and Human Services Secretary gave commencement remarks – with only one major interruption – to a largely supportive audience.

Photo by NCinDC via Flickr

In her speech, Sebelius didn’t directly address the ongoing controversy over the health law’s birth control coverage rule and the opposition it has drawn from the highest ranks of the Catholic church, but she did describe the importance of graduates acting as leaders and following their “own moral compass” as they wade through contentious debates that might involve religion.

“Ultimately, public policy is about making difficult choices,” Sebelius said. “Today, there are serious debates underway about the direction of our country. … People have deeply held beliefs on all sides of these discussions, and you, as public policy leaders, will be called on to help move these debates forward.”

Sebelius was unfazed when an audience member stood up and yelled, “You’re a murderer,” a couple minutes into her speech. Security rapidly removed the man from the ballroom and the secretary continued her remarks.

Institute students invited Sebelius to speak in January, before controversy erupted over the Obama administration’s contraception coverage mandate. In recent weeks, religious groups, including the Archdiocese of Washington, have voiced opposition to her appearance, noting how Georgetown, a religiously affiliated university, will soon have to cover birth control against church policy. Students, faculty and the university president all wrote response letters that supported Sebelius’ visit.

A Catholic herself, the secretary mentioned Friday that she’s also a “Hoya Mom” — with a double-graduate son. In addition, her husband graduated from Georgetown’s law school.

Outside the campus’ main gate, one group opposing Sebelius gathered a little over a dozen protestors, but graduates and their families largely ignored the demonstration.

8 Responses to “Sebelius Tells Georgetown Students To Follow Their ‘Own Moral Compass’”

  1. Sam says:

    “…a little over a dozen protestors,”


    What’s that?

    That isn’t a protest. That’s merely a Tea Party.

  2. Carole Lewis says:

    …following their “own moral compass” – Kathleen Sebelius

    …there is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death – Almighty God (Proverbs 14:12)

  3. Iris says:

    Gee, another Bible thumper! Amazing how they parse out scripture that is convenient to promote their Tea Party argument. Jesus had a very liberal health care plan that didn’t cost anyone a dime. He healed…

    a paralysed man
    an invalid at the Pool of Bethesda
    a man with the shrivelled hand
    a Roman centurion’s servant
    the widow of Nain’s dead son
    a madman and the Gadarene pigs
    a woman with the hemorrhage
    a deaf and dumb man in Decapolis
    an epileptic boy
    ten lepers…

    and others too numerous to mention.

    Jesus set the example. We need to help our neighbors. We need to reach back and bring others along with us. We all need to share the gifts the God so freely gives. All good things come from God. There but by God’s grace go ye. That’s the Godly way. But, that’s not the Tea Party way. The Tea Party motto is, “I’ve got mine, you can go to hell!”

  4. Harry says:

    …there is a way that seems right to a man but its end is the way of death – Almighty God (Proverbs 14:12)

    When our founding fathers wrote about separation of church and state and included such language in their original documents, what exactly did they mean? What didn’t they include the above verse?

  5. Rick says:

    Iris, Jesus’ health plan didn’t include infanticide or abortion. If you really knew your Bible, you’d know that the reason God allowed the Assyrians to take over the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC and the Babylonians to take over the kingdom of Judah in 586 BC is because Hebrew citizens of both countries had forsaken Yahweh to worship the false idols around them. This worship included sacrificing their own children to the false idols. Often this worship was promoted by the kings and leaders of the countries. God therefore pronounced judgment on those countries and people. Human nature hasn’t changed much in 2,800 years. God hasn’t changed either. If this country does not repent of murdering hundreds of thousands of innocents, then we too will be judged as a nation, if we have not been already. Yes, Jesus sets the example by telling those caught in sin to “go and sin no more.” He loves people but He expects repentance from them when confronted with their sin. Iris, you are right – we need to help our neighbors. We are told in Micah 6 and Isaiah 58 to take up for those who are oppressed. This would include the unborn who are murdered by the thousands daily. Speaking out against a health policy that forces people like myself to pool my money in an insurance plan that promotes abortion is one way to help my neighbor.

  6. Artemis2 says:

    Yep, makes perfect sense. Bring ‘em all into the world and then abandon them and the mothers who were required to carry and bear them by cutting funding to social service and public health/healthcare supports. That’s the ultra-conservative and Tea Party way. Again, I’ve got mine, what happens to you is your problem. And by the way, it’s not the baby daddy’s problem, either. As a Georgetown-educated Catholic, I just don’t think that’s what Jesus (or God) intended. If the Bible- thumping conservative Christians can ever get beyond their spiritually-limited judgmental selves (as I recall, Jesus said that judgment was God’s exclusive domain) and the Catholic Church can move on from its genital theology, maybe the world has a hope of moving forward in a manner that focuses on treating people compassionately and promoting the common good and real justice — which is just what I would expect of a Georgetown, Jesuit-educated graduate. Thank God for the Jesuits and thank God for places like Georgetown where students are taught to think, pray, and commit the gifts of their intellect and abilities toward resolving difficult issues and making the world a better place for all – not just sitting around and quoting scripture or conducting witch hunts for those who don’t agree with them.

  7. Marcus Aurelius says:

    Why can’t we all just get along? There seems to be somewhere in the middle that could accommodate both sides of this issue. On one side is the feeling that abortion is murder of innocent children of God and that murder is embraced by all societies as not just a sin but a crime. On the other side is the feeling that abortion if simply correcting a mistake or fixing a problem. This side also believes that “forcing” a pregnant woman to carry her baby to term is not the solution. Could we all agree that personal responsibility is at the root of the cause and the solution? A pregnancy took two people to create. In the majority of the cases, responsible participants could have prevented the pregnancy. In every case, adults have the responsibility to make the “right” decision for all 3 lives involved. We tend to allow the pregnant woman to have the “freedom to choose” and we leave out the responsible male participant and just completely ignore the newly formed life. A responsible society does not let the male off the hook or ignore the rights of the fetus. Whether on religious grounds or legal grounds or moral grounds (which are grounds that don’t always intersect anymore), we as a society are paying the price for the selfish behavior of irresponsible adults. We need to raise the expectations of ourselves and hold ourselves accountable for our actions and stop allowing ourselves to take the “easy way out”.

  8. Harry says:

    Art is right…

    Republicans will do everything they can to protect an unborn fetus but when that fetus is born, Republicans want to immediately stop all support and abandon the mother and her child.

    “…Assyrians to take over the Northern Kingdom in 722 BC and the Babylonians to take over the kingdom of Judah in 586 BC…”

    Huh? Quoting scripture? Get real! A child is a child! Whether in the womb of out of the womb. If Republicans cared as much for “all” children as they do for the unborn, we’d never have abortions. Women would not need to worry about feeding that baby once it leaves the womb. Republicans are the real genocidal maniacs! While these right-wing wackos are quoting scripture on one hand, they watch mothers needing to abort their babies because they know once that baby is born, it gets absolutely no help from our Republican leaders in Congress. Republicans want to slash all spending for America’s children! Yeah! Real Christian compassion!