While in the United States… Pope Francis & Religious Freedom Welcoming Ceremony South Lawn of the White House Washington, D.C. Wednesday, September 23, 2015 “American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding …
There has been a flurry of commentary on the Introductory Note added to the new version of “Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship.” Some have commented that the version just published by the bishops’ conference is the 2007 version, without revisions, and, …
Medicare must be changed if the program is to survive. Leaving the program on its current trajectory would expose seniors to rationed and restricted care while the reforms that House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan is proposing would actually save and …
Mother Loraine Maguire, the Mother Provincial for the Little Sisters of the Poor who will appear before the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday, March 22, 2016, took to the pages of USA Today on Tuesday to lay out why our most sacred religious liberties must be upheld.
By Loraine Maguire
When I first answered God’s call to join the Little Sisters of the Poor and vow myself to Him and to the care of the elderly, I never dreamed of the happiness I would experience in serving, living with and caring for the aging poor until God calls them to Himself. I also never thought one day, I would be walking up the white marble steps of the Supreme Court to attend a legal proceeding in which the high court will decide whether the government can force my order to help offer health care services that violate my Catholic faith and that are already available through existing government exchanges.
For the past two years, since the time we felt we had no choice but to engage in this legal process, I have been saddened to see some of the anger and misinformation generated about our case. One of the most misunderstood aspects has arisen from early statements made by the government about how all it was asking was that we sign a form saying we had a religious objection to its mandated services so it could provide these services independent of our health care plan.
This is untrue. The government already knows we object. In fact, this is not our first appeal for protection from the court. In December 2013, we first asked to be protected from the fines that would accrue against us unless we provided the objectionable services. At the time, Justice Sonia Sotomayor stopped the fines and the government received a letter from us stating our objection. Even before then, since the government announced it had put this regulation into effect, we registered our objection in writing, citing our concerns.
Why would the government need us to provide these services? Everyone knows the government can provide free services to anyone it wishes without our signing a form. It has always been clear to us that rather than being an “opt out,” the form is an opt-in. It gives the government permission to use our plan to deliver services such as ella, the week-after pill. The form even says our signature will legally alter our contract with our insurance provider.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the case is that the government, at the same time it has been trying to force us to sign this form and provide these services, has exempted close to 100 million Americans from having to comply with this mandate. It has exempted its own military family plan, its own insurance for the disabled as well as large private corporations such as Pepsi. All these exemptions were issued for convenience or commercial reasons, but when we have asked to be exempted for religious reasons, we have been denied the same privilege.
As I look around the home where I live in Baltimore, I see those who are truly affected by this unnecessary legal proceeding: the elderly poor. Most of the people who live in my residence have nowhere else to go. The 13,000 elderly we take care of around the world come to us in search of a home and of good medical care. They seek solace and companionship when they have none. And we gladly commit to live with them until they complete their earthly journey. We tell them that once they come to our home, we belong to them and they belong to us because we are family.
My heart is filled with grief at the worry and suffering this has caused our elderly residents. I tell them that whatever happens, God will take care of all of us as He has since the founding of our order 175 years ago. As I walk up the Supreme Court steps on this coming Holy Wednesday, I will be reflecting on the words our foundress, St. Jeanne Jugan: “God will help us: the work is His.” I will also be praying for our elderly residents. Finally, I will be praying that our laws continue to protect religious liberty, not only for my order but for all Americans.
Mother Loraine Maguire is the Mother Provincial for the Little Sisters of the Poor. The Little Sisters are represented in court by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.
On March 22, 2016, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke on the House floor in support of the Little Sisters of the Poor, the day before the U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments in their fight against the Affordable Care Act’s HHS mandate through which the U.S. Government is forcing them to violate their religious beliefs.
Below are Speaker Ryan’s full remarks as delivered:
“Tomorrow the Supreme Court will hear arguments in Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. And today, I stand in support of the Little Sisters.
“Mr. Speaker, this is an order of Catholic nuns who serve the elderly poor in 31 countries. We talk a lot about public service up here. Well, these are the people who live it. They are the definition of public service.
“In fact, I had the honor of hosting two of the sisters at the State of the Union address this January. And I was amazed to hear of all the good work that they do. So the last thing the federal government should do is make their jobs harder. But that, unfortunately, is exactly what this administration is doing.
“Under the health-care law, the Department of Health and Human Services is insisting on a regulation that requires the sisters to offer benefits that violate their religious beliefs. The administration claims to have offered them an ‘accommodation.’ But it is just a fig leaf. So this is the choice that they are facing: Either violate your faith or pay up to $70 million a year in fines.
“Mr. Speaker, there is no good reason for any of this. A full one third of the American people are exempt from this regulation. So why insist that the sisters—of all people—follow it? There are other ways to protect people’s health—that do not violate people’s faith.
“And Mr. Speaker, it is clear to anyone with eyes to see that this regulation is a violation of theReligious Freedom Restoration Act. A broad, bipartisan majority in Congress voted for that law. And what Congress said was this: The burden is not on your faith to obey government mandates. The burden is on the government to respect your faith.
“Mr. Speaker, that is the very meaning of religious liberty. That is one of our founding principles. That is why we should do everything we can to let people live out their faith. That is why many colleagues of mine and I have joined an amicus brief asking the Court to grant the sisters the relief that they deserve.
“And that is why I am here today—to stand in defense of the sisters, to stand in defense of the law, and to stand in defense of religious liberty. Thank you.”
Situation after situation we learn about Planned Parenthood’s disgusting business practices and utter disregard for the sanctity of life. Today, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine’s office announced the conclusion of their investigation into Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio. While it did not reveal their sale of aborted babies, they did learn of the horrible disposal of them in landfill sites.
Read the full press release below:
Ohio Planned Parenthood Investigation Reveals Fetal Remains Disposed of in Landfills
(COLUMBUS, Ohio)—Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine today announced that his office has concluded its investigation into the alleged sale of fetal tissue by Planned Parenthood affiliates. While the investigation did not find any indication that fetal tissue was sold by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio, the investigation did reveal that that aborted fetuses from Planned Parenthood facilities are ultimately disposed of in landfill sites.
Earlier this year, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine directed his Charitable Law Section to investigate whether Planned Parenthood affiliates in Bedford Heights, Cincinnati, and Columbus were violating Ohio law by selling fetal tissue, or abortion trafficking, in violation of Ohio Revised Code 2919.14. The Charitable Law Section requested documents and financial records from Planned Parenthood organizations as well as companies they contracted with. The investigation did not find that fetal tissue was sold by Planned Parenthood affiliates in Ohio.
The investigation showed that the disposal methods documented by the Planned Parenthood affiliates violate Ohio Administrative Code 3701-47-05, adopted in 1975, which requires that a “fetus shall be disposed of in a humane manner.” Specifically:
All three Ohio Planned Parenthood affiliates have sent fetal remains to companies which disposed of the fetuses in landfills.
Additionally, the Planned Parenthood facility in Bedford Heights stated it uses only one company for disposal. However, that company stated to investigators it does not accept fetal remains for disposal as a corporate policy.
“Disposing of aborted fetuses from an abortion by sending them to a landfill is callous and completely inhumane,” said Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine. “It is important the public be aware that these practices are taking place at these Ohio facilities.”
Attorney General DeWine referred his investigative findings to the Ohio Department of Health for further action. A copy of DeWine’s letter is available on the Ohio Attorney General’s website.
The Little Sister of the Poor were on Capitol Hill this morning meeting with Congressman Diane Black (R, TN-06) to discuss their ongoing fight against President Obama’s HHS mandate. The Supreme Court has agreed to hear the Little Sisters of the Poor legal challenge next year.
After the meeting Representative Black said:
“It is hard to imagine what could possibly be more pure or worthwhile than the ministry of Little Sisters of the Poor. For over 175 years, they have provided compassionate care to the most vulnerable among us. We should be praising their work, not punishing it. Sadly, that is exactly what Obamacare’s coercive HHS mandate will do. The law sets up an impossible choice for this ministry: deny their deeply held beliefs and provide coverage for drugs they deem to be morally objectionable, or face up to $70 million in annual penalties. I am honored to lend my voice and my prayers to the growing chorus calling on the Supreme Court to rectify this crisis and protect religious freedom from government attack when it hears this case next year. In the meantime, Congress should also do its part and finally pass my legislation, the Health Care Conscience Rights Act, which would provide full exemption from this oppressive mandate once and for all.”
As news trickles out about the Holy Father’s unnannounced schedule, Catholics in the United States can find encouragement he understands our current struggles to protect our religious liberties.
As released by Vatican Radio”
“Pope Francis on Wednesday made an unscheduled visit to the convent of the Little Sisters of the Poor, which is near the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he celebrated the Mass of Canonization of St. Junipero Serra.
“The religious order operates several nursing homes and care facilities in the United States.
“The congregation is involved in a lawsuit with the Obama Administration over the country’s new health care law. The government is trying to force the religious community to comply with a contraception mandate in the law, which violates Catholic religious beliefs.
“‘This is a sign, obviously of support for them [in their court case]” said Father Federico Lombardi, SJ, the head of the Holy See Press Office.
“’In this sense it is connected also to the words that the Pope has said in support of the Bishops of the United States in the speech to President Obama,’ Father Lombardi continued.
“’This was a little addition to the programme, but I think it has an important meaning in this moment,’ he said.”