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A number of leading Catholics are up in arms over an upcoming speech at Georgetown University by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.
Sebelius, a Catholic, is the face of the Obama administration's health care policies, and has routinely drawn fire from conservatives for her pro-choice positions in general and, more recently, for upholding the contraception mandate in the new health care law in specific.
That criticism, however, wasn't enough to deter students at the Jesuit university, who voted back in January to invite the HHS secretary to give an address at the school's Public Policy Institute at an awards ceremony on Friday.
The decision to host Sebelius has drawn complaints from a number of Catholics, including the Archdiocese of Washington, which sent a letter to Georgetown's president on Tuesday registering its opposition. The New York Times reports that the letter pointed specifically to Sebelius' role in the contraception mandate, which it characterized as "the most direct challenge to religious liberty in recent history."
The conservative Catholic Cardinal Newman Society has also joined the protest, sending a letter and a 26,000-signature petition to the university voicing its opposition. And predictably, anti-abortion activist Randall Terry (who is also running for president) and his organization Society for Truth & Justice, sent out a press release comparing Sebelius to Himmler.
Georgetown, however, isn't backing down. The school's president released a statement backing the students' choice, saying that Sebelius has "a long and distinguished record of public service," and that her presence on campus "should not be viewed as an endorsement of her views."