May 18th, 2012
02:58 PM ET

Health secretary addresses health care, religious freedom in protested graduation speech

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – In an anticipated and controversial address Friday, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius delivered a speech that blended inspirational messages to graduates with a discussion of public policy's tough decisions, including health care and honoring religious freedom.

Her speech at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute awards ceremony had been considered controversial by conservative Catholic organizations that saw her appearance as the university validating her positions on abortion and contraception.

The speech did not mention the controversy directly, but Sebelius did address faith in public life in a section of the speech devoted to John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic president of the United States.

"Kennedy was elected president on November 8, 1960," she said. "And more than 50 years later, that conversation, about the intersection of our nation's long tradition of religious freedom with policy decisions in the public square, continues."


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Abortion • Bishops • Catholic Church • Health • Health care

Catholic Archdiocese of Washington rebukes Georgetown on Sebelius speech
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius' invitation to speak at Georgetown has drawn the ire of a Catholic group.
May 15th, 2012
07:39 PM ET

Catholic Archdiocese of Washington rebukes Georgetown on Sebelius speech

By Dan Merica, CNN

Washington (CNN) – The Archdiocese of Washington, the Catholic Church’s authority in the nation’s capital, is rebuking another Catholic icon, Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic college in the United States.

The conflict is over the university’s Public Policy Institute’s invitation to Kathleen Sebelius, the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, to be its 2012 award ceremony speaker this weekend. The decision drew immediate ire from Catholic groups who see Sebelius, a Catholic, as someone who is using her office to violate religious liberty.

In a statement Tuesday, the Archdiocese of Washington called the decision unfortunate and even charged that the Public Policy Institute was supporting a “radical redefining of ministry.”

“Given the dramatic impact this mandate will have on Georgetown and all Catholic institutions, it is understandable that Catholics across the country would find shocking the choice of Secretary Sebelius, the architect of the mandate, to receive such special recognition at a Catholic university,” reads the statement. “It is also understandable that Catholics would view this as a challenge to the bishops.”


- Dan Merica

Filed under: Catholic Church • DC • Education • Health • Politics

January 3rd, 2012
03:01 PM ET

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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.