“Scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another's spiritual ruin.” — St. Thomas Aquinas, Patron of Catholic Universities.
According to Wikipedia Georgetown University is a private research university in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Jesuit and Catholic university in the United States. Georgetown's main campus, located in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood, is noted for Healy Hall, a National Historic Landmark in the Romanesque revival style. Georgetown operates a law center on Capitol Hill and auxiliary campuses in Italy, Turkey, and Qatar.
Georgetown's founding by John Carroll, America's first Catholic bishop, realized efforts to establish a Roman Catholic college in the province of Maryland that were repeatedly thwarted by religious persecution. The university expanded after the American Civil War under the leadership of Patrick Francis Healy, who came to be known as Georgetown's "second founder" despite having been born a slave. Jesuits have participated in the university's administration since 1805, a heritage Georgetown celebrates, but the university has always been governed independently of the Society of Jesus and of church authorities.
Jesuit settlers from England founded the Province of Maryland in 1634. However, the 1646 defeat of the Royalists in the English Civil War led to stringent laws against Roman Catholic education and the extradition of known Jesuits from the colony, including Andrew White, and the destruction of their school at Calverton Manor. During most of the remainder of Maryland's colonial period, Jesuits conducted Catholic schools clandestinely. It was not until after the end of the American Revolution that plans to establish a permanent Catholic institution for education in the United States were realized.
Because of Benjamin Franklin's recommendation, Pope Pius VI appointed former Jesuit John Carroll as the first head of the Roman Catholic Church in America, even though the papal suppression of the Jesuit order was still in effect. Carroll began meetings of local clergy in 1783 near Annapolis, Maryland, where they orchestrated the development of a new university. On January 23, 1789, Carroll finalized the purchase of the property on which Dahlgren Quadrangle was later built. Future Congressman William Gaston was enrolled as the school's first student on November 22, 1791, and instruction began on January 2, 1792.
In its early years, Georgetown College suffered from considerable financial strain, relying on private sources of funding and the limited profits from local lands owned by ex-Jesuits. The Maryland Society of Jesus began its restoration in 1805, and Jesuit affiliation, in the form of teachers and administrators, bolstered confidence in the college. The United States Congress issued Georgetown the first federal university charter in 1815, which allowed it to confer degrees, and the first Bachelor degrees were awarded two years later. In 1844, the school received a corporate charter, under the name "The President and Directors of Georgetown College", affording the growing school additional legal rights. In response to the demand for a local option for Roman Catholic students, the Medical School was founded in 1851.
The university has around 7,000 undergraduate and over 8,000 post-graduate students from a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds, including 130 foreign countries. The university's most notable alumni are prominent in public life in the United States and abroad. Among them are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, dozens of governors and members of Congress, and the heads of state or government of more than a dozen countries. [Source: Wikipedia]
Until the ninth grade I went to Catholic school where the secular education was above average and we also learned about the Catholic faith. One of the tenants of the faith we learned about in our Catechism lessons was something called scandal. According to the Catholic Encyclopedia Scandal is defined thusly:
“According to St. Thomas scandal is a word or action evil in itself, which occasions another's spiritual ruin. It is a word or action, that is either an external act—for an internal act can have no influence on the conduct of another—or the omission of an external act, because to omit what one should do is equivalent to doing what is forbidden; it must be evil in itself, or in appearance; this is the interpretation of the words of St. Thomas: minus rectum. It is not the physical cause of a neighbor's sin, but only the moral cause, or occasion; further, this moral causality may be understood in a strict sense, as when one orders, requests, or advises another to commit the sin (this is strictly inductive scandal, which some call co-operation in a broad sense), or in a large sense, as when a person without being directly concerned in the sin nevertheless exercises a certain influence on the sin of his neighbor, e.g. by committing such a sin in his presence (this is inductive scandal in a broad sense). For scandal to exist it is therefore essential and sufficient, with regard to the nature of the act and the circumstances under which it takes place, that it be of a nature to induce sin in another; consequently it is not necessary that the neighbor should actually fall into sin; and on the other hand, for scandal strictly so-called, it is not enough that a neighbor take occasion to do evil from a word or action which is not a subject of scandal and exercises no influence on his action; it must be a cause of spiritual ruin, that is of sin, consequently that is not scandal which merely dissuades the neighbor from a more perfect act, as for instance, prayer, the practice of the Evangelical virtues, the more frequent use of the sacraments, etc. Still less can that be considered scandal, which only arouses comment, indignation, horror etc., for instance blasphemy committed in the presence of a priest or of a religious; it is true that the act arouses indignation and in common parlance it is often called scandalous, but this way of speaking is inaccurate, and in strictly theological terminology it is not the sin of scandal. Hence scandal is in itself an evil act, at least in appearance, and as such it exercises on the will of another an influence more or less great which induces to sin. Furthermore, when the action from which another takes occasion of sin is not bad, either in itself or in appearance, it may violate charity (see below), but strictly speaking it is not the sin of scandal. However, some authorities understanding the word scandal in a wider sense include in it this case”
The Catholic Encyclopedia divides scandal into two divisions:
“(1) Scandal is divided into active and passive. Active scandal is that which has been defined above; passive scandal is the sin which another commits in consequence of active scandal. Passive scandal is called scandal given (scandalum datum), when the act of the scandalizer is of a nature to occasion it; and scandal received (acceptum), when the action of the one who scandalizes is due solely to ignorance or weakness—this is scandal of the weak (infirmorum),—or to malice and evil inclinations—this is pharisaical scandal, which was that of the Pharisees with regard to the words and actions of Christ.
(2) Active scandal is direct when he who commits it has the intention of inducing another to sin; such is the sin of one who solicits another to the crime of adultery, theft etc. If one prevails upon another to commit the sin not only because of an advantage or pleasure believed to accrue therefrom but chiefly because of the sin itself, because it is an offence to God or the ruin of a neighbor's soul, direct scandal is called by the expressive name of diabolical scandal. On the other hand scandal is only indirect when without the intention to cause another to fall into sin we say a word or perform a deed which is for him an occasion of sin.”
By now you must be asking yourself why all of this information regarding Catholic doctrine. To answer your question I believe it is necessary to lay the foundation for what I am about to say about the Catholic Church and Georgetown University in particular.
Georgetown University has been on a slippery slope towards progressive liberalism and away from its Catholic roots for a long time. So it's no surprise the Jesuit institution would invite someone like Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Department of Health and Human Services to speak on May 18 in one of its commencement ceremonies at the Public Policy Institute.
However the HHS secretary causes scandal when she identifies as Catholic while publicly and consistently promoting abortion on demand through all trimesters of pregnancy. Through two terms as governor of Kansas, she vetoed anti-abortion legislation in 2003, 2005 and 2006 and vetoed a bill in April 2008 that would have strengthened her state's limits on late-term abortions.
Add to that her acceptance of hundreds of thousands of dollars from a late term abortion doctor, and her willingness to protect Dr. Tiller from being sued and prosecuted while she was governor of Kansas. Not to mention numerous fundraisers provided by Planned Parenthood.
When Sebelius talks about being "personally against abortion" but endorses it at every turn, she exposes her utter duplicity. Yet Georgetown looks the other way. This is a classic example of Scandal.
The Georgetown University News made the proud exclamation about their choice of speakers:
“Our commencement speakers are exceptional individuals who represent the highest levels of excellence and who will provide inspiration for our students as they envision more clearly the impact they can make in the world,” said Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “These individuals from diverse backgrounds have worked tirelessly to improve the lives of others through public service, research, teaching and creative endeavors.”
When it came to Sebelius they had this to say:
“Sebelius was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) in 2009. Since taking office, she has led efforts to improve America’s health and enhance the delivery of human services to some of the nation’s most vulnerable populations, including young children, those with disabilities and the elderly. As part of the historic Affordable Care Act, she is implementing reforms she says have ended many of the insurance industry’s most discriminatory practices and will help 34 million uninsured Americans get health coverage. She is also working with doctors, nurses, hospital leaders, employers and patients to implement policies aimed at slowing the growth of health care costs. Sebelius served as governor of Kansas from 2003 until her cabinet appointment and was named one of America’s Top Five Governors by Time magazine.”
Not one word about her unwavering support of abortion or push to override the First Amendment by ordering Catholic institutions to provide free birth control and abortifacients. It was this very issue that brought a Georgetown student, Sandra Fluke, to national exposure.
The Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic organization supporting college students on campuses, has put up a petition on its site requesting DiGioia to rescind Georgetown's invitation to Sebelius. The CNS states:
“Last week The Cardinal Newman Society released a list of 11 scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges and universities, as well as a report on homosexual “lavender graduations” including one at Georgetown.
The nation’s oldest Catholic and Jesuit university has chosen to honor Sebelius by granting her a prestigious platform at its Public Policy Institute commencement ceremony, despite her role as the lead architect of a healthcare mandate that will force Catholic institutions to pay for contraception, abortifacients and sterilization against their religious beliefs. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has termed the mandate “an unwarranted government definition of religion” that is “alien both to our Catholic tradition and to federal law,” “a violation of personal civil rights” and “a mandate to act against our teachings.”
But Secretary Sebelius’ record on abortion is at least as troubling as the mandate. When Governor of Kansas, Sebelius supported abortion rights and vetoed pro-life legislation. In 2008, Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City reportedly told Sebelius, a Roman Catholic, to stop receiving the Eucharist until she publicly recants her position on abortion and makes a “worthy sacramental confession.”
The HHS secretary was also instrumental in creating the ObamaCare contraception mandate issued in January of this year. But the Catholic Church vehemently opposes this violation of religious freedom:
Surely the Church presents an obstacle to fully implementing ObamaCare just as it did when it argued against Margaret Sanger when she promoted widespread use of birth control. Sanger hated the Church and fought its bishops in public forums. It should also be noted that Margaret Sanger was an avowed racist who wanted to abort Black babies so we could reduce their population. This is the same Margaret Sanger honored by Hilary Clinton a few years ago.
In asking Sebelius to speak at commencement, does Georgetown have an arrangement with the Obama administration to attack its own Church? They were already in the news when one of their law students hit the airwaves with her demand for American taxpayers to foot her annual contraception bill. Now they will be honoring an abortion rights supporter.
It was also at Georgetown University that the administration decided to cover all religious statures, symbols, and paintings in honor of Barack Obama when he spoke their soon after his inauguration. Their excuse was that they did not want to infringe on the principle of the separation of church and state. How feeble a response for taking a purely secular position. Georgetown is not a secular university; it is and always had been a Catholic University based on the principles, tenants and doctrine of the Catholic Church. If you do not approve of this condition, then don’t go there.
This has been an ongoing trend in the Catholic Church for since the 1970’s. Prestigious Catholic universities like Notre Dame and Catholic University have followed similar paths. Isn’t it time for Cardinal Dolan, the prelate of the Catholic Church in America to speak out in condemnation of these policies and begin to excommunicate some of these Catholic administrators and politicians who profess to be Catholic while giving scandal to the Church.
I hope that Georgetown will see the error of its ways and disinvite Sebelius, but I doubt it will happen. We are too far down the road of progressive secularism in the Catholic Church.