Archdiocese of Washington, Catholic University, Others Sue Obama Administration
Protests echo after graduation weekend at Georgetown University, and charges that religious freedom is under attack have entered a wider arena. These new protests may have an effect on the 2012 presidential campaign.
The criticism of Georgetown University's invitation of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to speak at its Public Policy Institute drew media attention and a small crowd of protesters at 37th and O Streets as well as a heckler during Sebelius's speech May 18. The Archdiocese of Washington's argument that the HHS secretary posed a threat to religious freedom was followed by a report that William Peter Blatty, author of "The Exorcist" and a 1950 Georgetown graduate, planned to sue the university in Catholic court for not adhering to Catholic dogma. The university had cited academic freedom in defending the selection of Sebelius as a commencement speaker.
Blatty, according to Religion News Service, "says that Georgetown has violated church teaching for decades by inviting speakers who support abortion rights and refusing to obey instructions the late Pope John Paul II issued in 1990 to church-affiliated colleges and universities. Georgetown should amend its ways or stop calling itself a Catholic or Jesuit institution, Blatty said."
On Monday, it was announced that the Obama administration is being sued by the Archdioceses of New York and Washington, D.C., Catholic University, the University of Notre Dame and other Catholic dioceses and groups that are "filing 12 different lawsuits filed in federal courts around the country," according to CNSNews.com.
A special website of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. -- PreserveReligiousFreedom.org -- explained the decision: "This lawsuit is about an unprecedented attack by the federal government on one of America's most cherished freedoms: the freedom to practice one's religion without government interference. It is not about whether people have access to certain services; it is about whether the government may force religious institutions and individuals to facilitate and fund services which violate their religious beliefs."
The lawsuits, according to CNSNews.com, "focus on the regulation that Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last August and finalized in January that requires virtually all health-care plans in the United States to cover sterilizations and all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptives, including those that can cause abortions."