D.C. Archbishop Nips Georgetown for Biden Event

By Michelle Boorstein A pro-choice White House is already providing new challenges for Washington-area Catholic leaders. First, Washington Archbishop Donald … Continued

By Michelle Boorstein

A pro-choice White House is already providing new challenges for Washington-area Catholic leaders.

First, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl was asked to comment on the University of Notre Dame’s recent controversial decision to give the president an honorary degree. Earlier this week, some Catholics alerted the archdiocese that Vice President Joe Biden was given an award by a pro-choice organization at another Catholic school — Georgetown University.

On Wednesday, Biden was given an award by Legal Momentum, which was founded as NOW’s legal defense group and is a non-profit focused on advancing the rights and education of women and girls – including reproductive freedom. The award was part of an all-day event marking the 15th anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which Biden wrote. The day was co-sponsored by Legal Momentum and Georgetown University Law Center’s Journal of Gender and the Law.

Wuerl wrote to the school, said archdiocese spokeswoman Susan Gibbs, “expressing concern that it happened and noting the confusion that happens by having an event by entities that are at odds with Catholic teaching.” It wasn’t clear if Wuerl would have been satisfied if Georgetown had addressed the issue publicly beforehand.

Gibbs noted that the circumstances were very different than those at Notre Dame, where it is the school itself that is honoring Obama. In Biden’s case, Georgetown was merely acting as the host. Even so, Wuerl has been known to have moderate responses to these controversies. When asked about the Notre Dame event, which has spurred a small but intense movement of angry Catholics, Wuerl said the school should not have honored Obama but that he was not in favor of rescinding the invite.

Georgetown Law Center issued a statement last night saying the school “is proud of its Catholic and Jesuit identity and its core values of respect for and service to others. As part of its educational mission, the Law Center routinely organizes and hosts conferences about critical legal and policy issues providing for a free exchange of ideas and perspectives. While students and faculty may invite speakers and host events, the views of the speakers are not endorsed by nor do they necessarily reflect the views of Georgetown.”

  • AmBruce

    The teachings will be the same: 1) it is an inadmissable solution to population problems to kill innocent human beings at the beginning of life (abortion) or at the end of life (euthanasia), and 2) couples, not governments, are called to exercise responsible parenthood, taking account of their situation and even external considerations, and using morally licit means. It is in their conscience where these decisions are to be made, not in the halls of government or the boardrooms of international agencies or corporations whose business is “population control”.If Church teaching were followed in the West there would not be the population implosion we are seeing in many places. The solution to overpopulation in the South and East, is responsible parenthood, not the coercion of consciences by governments and UN agences.

  • ejgallagher1

    The Archdiocese of Washington does not run Georgetown. Biden was primarily being honored for his sponsoring of the Violence Against Women Act. Does the Archbishop oppose that concept or just think that women don’t count in the church as he sees it ? I have a degree from GULC and note that the student body is very diverse in religious tradition and political views, but always open to the concept of free speech. The late Father Robert Drinan was a fine example of this tradition.

  • Civilius

    The Catholic Church is going to far in what seems to be an agenda to restrict and exclude those who don’t agree w/ the church’s teachings (they seem to be very selective in their outrage).

  • Damndofhell

    It seems that the Catholic church still sees itself as the one world government. It believes that it’s power still infringes upon people, and governments that reject it’s policies, laws, and devine right of kings. My question is how much longer witll they allow any catholic to run for publice election, without permission of their bishops? And, when those of this country refuse to even nominate a catholic for office, due to the catholic belief that, those in government must, and only do the bidding and whims of the pope?

  • usapdx

    Bearing in mind the teachings of the Catholic Church on birth control and abortion, I wonder what the teaching will be when the world cannot produce the needed amout of food or drinking water for the people of the world. Hello supply and demand and it will not be peaceful. The time will be here before 2050.

  • vancouver1999

    “…by having an event by entities that are at odds with Catholic teaching.”Hmmm…the only teaching in question here is abortion. What about the death penalty? War? Poverty? Rewarding the rich with huge tax breaks? Guess those are Republican issues that the Church won’t confront as forcefully as other issues. I’m a Catholic and remain disappointed in this witch hunt of Democrats.

  • barry9

    We need to confront our past in order to move in a positive way into the future. The Catholic Adolph Hitler was never excommunicated, but Bridget Bardot was. The church is the people and the people must speak up.

  • DaBrugg

    1. Church authorities have a right, as do all peoples, to comment as they wish on the happenings at GU. No one has the obligation to listen to any one or all commenters.

  • stevies_dad

    “There are not over a hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church. There are millions, however, who hate what they wrongly believe to be the Catholic Church–which is, of course, quite a different thing!” -Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen.The Church is not a museum of saints, it is a hospital for sinners. Those who are pointing out the sinners in the Church are wasting your time. There are thousands more sins being committed every day that you will never know about. We know we have big problems with sin. We know because we are part of the problem. Instead of kibitzing from the sidelines (which is a very safe and selfish place to be) why don’t you join the fight and help us clean up our act?

  • lwps

    It is clear that the American Catholic Church is now a Republican institution. Why not make them pay taxes?

  • AX10

    Georgetown had a choice about whether to allow this event and awarding to occur on campus, just as it has a choice about all other things it will and will not allow on campus. Universities should be a safe space for all people to discuss and debate ideas. However, this was not an occasion for debate about this legislation, but to reflect on it – and to celebrate it.It is indeed important to reflect on issues at the university, but at a Catholic university one should expect there to be a Catholic voice in the reflection. It is notable that no representative of the Catholic Church was among the voices offering their analysis, praise and/or critique. Surely the welfare of women and children is a concern of the Church and she would welcome the opportunity to comment on the strengths and weaknesses of the legislation and its implementation. It is true that Georgetown should deny a voice to no one, including its own Church. If it doesn’t have this special purpose, it is no different from a secular institution. However, what is more offensive than the absence of the Catholic voice at this symposium, is the willingness of Georgetown offer its space for a program that bestows an honor on a Catholic politician who’s views and actions directly contradict the teaching of the Church on abortion. Absence of the Catholic voice is regrettable but cooperation in an action explicitly rejected by your own Church teachers is untenable. It doesn’t make sense that one would embrace the label Catholic and then reject Catholic teaching. Its a sign of an identity crisis. The US bishops have explicitly taught that in no way should a Catholic politicians be honored for work furthering a cause in direct opposition to the beliefs of the Church. True, Georgetown has not bestowed the honor itself, but it has directly contributed to this scandal by willingly offering the group a place to do this. It is guilty of cooperating in the action and should be rebuked for its cooperation, however indirect.This is upsetting and confusing. I hope those in charge of the university will try to understand how events such as this are not value neutral but are in fact in conflict with their mission as a Catholic institution.

  • casuallad

    It is interesting to read the ignorance of the so-called intellectuals readers of the Washington Post. First, you have non-catholics or those that call themselves catholic making comments on things for which they have no understanding. Why don’t Some will bring up the shameful acts of some priests, but they won’t call it for what it was. It was not a pedophilia problem it was a homosexual problem. The outside, independent research states that. But, who among these detractors wants to look at facts? That might actually be intellectual. Along the same lines, you have states trying to attack the Church and change the statue of limitations. More telling is that state institutions, like schools, are never a part of the package. Why? Because the abuse that has gone on and continues to go on in public schools would bankrupt the city/state governments. One person says the Church is now Republican. In regards to all Life issues, it is true that the Republican party is much closer to the Catholic Church’s teaching. What do these same people say when the Church is or was on their side? Catholics used to be overwhelming Democratic until the Democratic Party lost all of its morality and decided that it is better to kill life then to be inconvenienced by a child.As for the comment on the myth of over-population, check out the facts. Most of the Western world is heading for disaster because it is not producing enough people for replacement. The standard birthrate needs to be about 2.1. Check out the facts first regardless of you point of view.In general, any article the deals with the Catholic Church gets a lot of unhappy, angry people that want to attack it. It has been here for about 2000 years and will be here after we are gone.

  • Sam888

    NMRemote,Regardless of how hard YOU TALK IN ALL CAPS, religion is not going away. And saying “I don’t like this so the newspaper shouldn’t include articles about it” is just silly.

  • outofplaceinthebeltway

    Hey everybody,Who on earth is still operating on the assumption that Georgetown–let alone its law school–is a Catholic university at all? Georgetown these days is only Catholic in the most generic sense: it broadly advocates the golden rule, social justice, etc. All important goals, and all quintessentially Catholic values, no doubt–but when it comes to fleshing out those what precisely those values mean, Georgetown (i) is either unwilling to promote actively or even articulate and defend publically what it believes for fear of offense, or (ii) simply rejects many of the positions of the Church. Speaking as a 2L GULC law school student, my guess is that there is something to be said for both. There are wonderful religious stationed here at GULC, but they largely work as private counselors and confidantes; though a friendly and welcome presence on campus, they do not for whatever reason actively promote Catholic doctrine or teachings on those topics (which,if you believe them) are most important. Although there is a band of active Catholic students on campus, GULC has a more visible Jewish population than it does a Catholic one. An anecdote is illustrative. Although I came to GULC under no illusion of it being Catholic at all (it being Jesuit), there are still some people who come here who did not do their research. Last year in our student newspaper, some earnest little Filipina 3L vented her frustration about the lack of even token obeisance to Catholic orthodoxy on the law school campus and was promptly shouted down by a series of responses by other students offended by the very idea of ANY Catholic affiliation (even attenuated Jesuit ones!)whose arguments generally boiled down to “it’s ours now.” That’s what happens when you don’t do your research, I guess–bad lawyering. In conclusion, my advice for the Archbishop is that he should save his breath–focus your efforts on the secondary schools and elementary schools, because you lost Georgetown a long time ago. It’s really a shame, because those clergy it does have are all very bright individuals who would be of great help in spreading and strengthening the faith; instead, they seem more preoccupied with changing it to conform to more secular and popular values.Best.P.S. In Georgetown Law’s defense, as of last fall it did not offer health care benefits to same-sex partners, purportedly on religious grounds (so said one of my professors who pointed out that this policy affected him directly). Although notionally this is adhering to Catholic doctrine, it seems ridiculous that the administration would choose THIS method of adhering to the faith (denying people health care?) while completely ignoring more useful and beneficial ways in which it promote the faith. Way to go Jesuits! But I guess taking a stand in this way is MUCH cheaper….

  • Luke2

    If Archbishop Wuert wishes to take part in politics in America then maybe he should start paying taxes. The Roman Catholic Church is the largest holder of real estate in the world- and pays no taxes. It’s about time it started paying its share.

  • coloradodog

    Pointy hatted pedophile protectors have no right to bully American government or politicians – it’s against the law.

  • mcreynolds

    The Catholic Church contiunes to render itself irrelevant……

  • dixiesc

    The Catholic Church is as relevant today as it was over 2000 years ago when founded by Jesus Christ. There are no so-called orthodox or liberal Catholics; there are only Catholics. Georgetown University is much too liberal to call itself a Catholic university. Earlier this week, it covered up Catholic signage when Obama spoke. Neither Benedict XVI nor any Pope would approve an abortion for a 9-yr.old girl carrying twins, as someone posted. Where did you ever come up with such an outrageous idea? The Church believes abortion is an intrinsic evil–the taking of a human life, also known as murder. I think you must be smoking something funny.

  • Utahreb

    Here we go again – churches mixing their theology into politics. This is one of the reasons many of us who consider ourselves religious do not go to church. Another reason is that I, for one, consider churches to now be run as big businesses. And isn’t it interesting that the Pope himself okayed an abortion for a 9-year old girl who was carrying twins and the doctors said she would die if she carried them to term? Does anyone see a little hypocrisy here? What about older females whose lives are in danger if they carry a fetus to term?

  • QuoVadisAnima

    Mixing theology with politics? This is about supposedly CATHOLIC Universities – not secular colleges – honoring people who dishonor our beliefs. Of course the bishops need to say something about it! Would you criticize the Jews for protesting an award being given by a Jewish University to a politician who was supporting Neo-Nazis?Or do you only support such things when you agree with what they are protesting? How illogical, unreasonable & un-American.

  • Luke2

    “Neither Benedict XVI nor any Pope would approve an abortion for a 9-yr.old girl carrying twins.” DixiescDixie,It is not up to the Pope of the Roman Catholic Church to decide what Americans can and cannot do under our Constitution. He can’t even stop people in Italy from choosing whether to have an abortion or not. That is up to the woman- not the government. Most of the world’s population are not Roman Catholics or right wing evangelist “Christians.” Jesus was not the founder of the Roman Catholic Church. His truly unique beliefs were perverted by Paul who completely changed what Jesus had hoped for mankind. Jesus Christ would not have allowed his followers to kill each other in war. The Roman Catholic Church has never objected to its members killing anyone who didn’t follow its commands. Does the Spanish Inquisition ring a bell?If the Roman Catholic Church allowed birth control there would not have to be abortions among its members. They are living in another age. They force women to bear children- and then allow them to starve, become diseased, or die in wars.

  • go4dan0


  • LexEtLibertas

    go4dan0:You need to get a grip.For starters, the Catholic Church does not teach that the death penalty is intrinsically evil. There are a number of factors to be considered for the state to apply it, and while the prudential judgment of most bishops may be that capital punishment is all-but unnecessary in most counties’ modern penal systems, this is precisely that: a prudential judgment, and no bishop (or Pope for that matter) has seen fit to impose their prudential judgments on this matter on Catholic lawmakers.By contrast, other activities, such as abortion and homosexual marriage, are considered by the Church to be intrinsically evil, such that any support for them, under any circumstance, is a grave violation of the natural law, and so a mortal sin.The same goes with the Iraq War. The Church has a very definite understanding of what it means to wage a just war, but whether any particular war is just is necessarily a prudential judgment, and while the Pope(s) and most bishops did not regard the Iraq War as having a just cause, again they did not see fit to impose this judgment on their flocks (e.g., by forbidding Catholics to partake in it), as they recognize that one can, in good conscience, assess the facts and reasons for the war differently.NOTE: I am not, for purposes of this post, justifying either capital punishment or the Iraq War. I’m simply making the point that Catholic social teaching has its various nuances, and that the Catholic Church actually has a high degree of tolerance for how far her members may disagree with certain policy positions of the hierarchy and still remain in good standing. Biden, Giuliani, Pelosi, and others have simply crossed the line, at least according to the Church’s social doctrine.

  • LexEtLibertas

    And another thing, go4dan0.I don’t know what point you’re trying to make in telling us you’re a so-called “Eucharistic Minister.” The Catholic Church does not have “eucharistic ministers,” unless you consider bishops, priests, and deacons to be such. What you are, in fact, is what the Church calls an “Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion.”Which means you’re not an ordained minister. It means you’re just a joe-schmoe layperson with no theological training whatsoever who happens to be around to pass around Communion on Sundays. I just thought I should clarify that for the non-Catholic readership.As for me, I am a 24 year-old Juris Doctor candidate, and a former seminarian. I say this only for reasons of full-disclosure. I do not consider myself an authority for all things Catholic, but I am confident that my brief exposition of Catholic social teaching is backed up my official magisterial texts, not to mention the broader Catholic tradition.

  • janet_baker76

    Luke2 wrote, “If the Roman Catholic Church allowed birth control there would not have to be abortions among its members. They are living in another age” but it is the commenter who is living in another age. Birth control fails. Condoms fail once out of every twelve uses, the average from the industry research. Condoms necessitate abortions. And other methods are even worse–the fail rate of the sponge appears to exceed the fail rate of using nothing at all, as if the sponge actually promotes conception! The most reliable form of birth control is the pill, with a failure rate of about five out of every hundred instances (when used according to directions, which few women do), but again the commenter, and not the Church, is in the dark ages. The pill is associated with the huge increase in breast cancer, and related expense, of course, and even worse, perhaps, is saturating the world’s water shed with female hormones introduced via sewage. It does not filter out and it is altering vast populations of marine life by eliminating the males or changing them to female. Anyone can find the particulars on this by googling it, no one denies it, but of course CNN and company is not exactly messing with the sexual-freedom-at-any- price crowd by actually discussing it, just as they cover the ‘struggle’ against breast cancer, but never cover the hormonal relation between breast tissue and abortion.Luke2, the Church is showing its good science and good sense and green wisdom, and you, sir, sound like the 1950′s. ‘Don’t mess with Mother Nature,’ that is the Church’s message, is now, and ever has been, because both the natural and the moral law flow from the same creative hand. Your rant is based on an immature desire to disobey your Mother and your Father, and nothing more.

  • rdp46

    Dear Janet Baker76,You stated the following, “The (birth control) pill is associated with the huge increase in breast cancer, …., perhaps, (the birth control pill) is saturating the world’s water shed with female hormones introduced via sewage. It does not filter out and it is altering vast populations of marine life by eliminating the males or changing them to female. Anyone can find the particulars ….. no one denies it, but of course CNN and company is not exactly messing with the sexual-freedom-at-any- price crowd by actually discussing it, just as they cover the ‘struggle’ against breast cancer, but never cover the hormonal relation between breast tissue and abortion.” … the Church is showing its good science and good sense and green wisdom, ……. ‘Don’t mess with Mother Nature,’ that is the Church’s message, is now, and ever has been, because both the natural and the moral law flow from the same creative hand. …. rant is based on an immature desire to disobey your Mother and your Father, and nothing more.”Janet, I am sorry but yours is really the rant. First of all all these hormones are broken down by the human liver and the fully broken down products are excreted in the urine. The worlds oceans are not being contaminated by any working hormones that causes hormonal or other changes in ocean ecosystems. This is a bit of disinformation originally put out in the Vatican press but later hushed as so many top scientists protested the facts.Western medicine itself is based on observation of natural phenomena then using those observations for a hoped benefit to humans. It does not always work particularly when it is practiced by corporations with a standard profit motive that is greater than concern for fellow men, but it has and continues to work when science is ethically financed. The Catholic Church of which I am a member has shown its utter disregard for the scientific method and the observations of astronomers, embryologists and many other great and reasonable researchers. This can be chalked up to a very poor episcopal leadership, one that condemns many of its own better theologians in order to support cultish belief from Rome. The problem is that the Bishops treat the laity as if they were second class christians and do not recognized their many talents which often exceeds those of a simple administrator (Bishop.)Peace and understanding,

  • spmullen

    Dr. Porch,Explain to me the various independent, scientific studies that detected the presence of synthetic female hormones from birth control pills in, true, not oceans, but freshwater streams in North America. See Environmental Health News, 9/5/2007. Google also, if you will, the other studies showing birth control hormones turning up in tap water here in New Jersey. There are other examples and studies as well. None of the studies was done by any group having anything to do with religion. A Catholic newspaper (not Vatican run) did pick up the story, but the scientific studies themselves were not “disinformation put out by the Vatican.” I think, rather, that the scientists who rushed to condemn the studies have an ideology of their own to push.

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