Supreme Court Justices to Consider Hearing Priests for Life Case Against HHS Mandate
March 24, 2014
Below is my latest column, Just a Pinch of Incense, which has to do with activity this week at the Supreme Court, including from Priests for Life!
We have learned that by the end of this month, the Supreme Court will decide if they will review our lawsuit against the HHS Mandate! This is big news. We are asking everyone to please pray a special nine day novena to reverse the unjust HHS mandate. The prayers can be found at Priestsforlife.org/novenas/hhs-mandate.htm. When you go to that page, please indicate at the bottom that you are saying the novena, and please spread the word.
And, as my column indicates, I will be praying at the Supreme Court tomorrow as the Court hears the cases regarding the mandate as they apply to businesses. Join me if you can, from 9:30 to 11:30am in front of the Supreme Court! After my column below you can read a related press release.
On other matters, the Silent No More Awareness Campaign has posted on its website a partial list of women who have died from abortion, see SilentNoMoreAwareness.org/DeathsFromAbortion. You can help the Campaign give these women a chance to be “silent no more” by sharing this page with others.
Also, please join me for a special Medical Decision-Making webcast on Thursday, April 3 from 9 to 10 pm Eastern Time. My guests will be Bobby Schindler of the Terri Schiavo Life and Hope Network and Priests for Life medical advisor, Dr Matt Harrison. We will talk about what kinds of questions you should ask your doctor and your priest regarding whether or not to begin or continue various kinds of medical treatment for yourself or your loved ones. We will lay out some principles and describe the problems and challenges we face in our society – and we will also tell you about some resources you can use. Sign up at PriestsForLife.org/webcast. After you sign up, a page will appear with the information you need to listen either by phone or internet. I look forward to speaking with you on April 3.
Please join in praying a Lenten Prayer for Life that can be found at PrayerCampaign.org. Also, don’t forget to order Easter Prayer for Life Prayer Cards for yourself, or your Church congregation. You can order at ProLifeProducts.org.
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Praise for our work
Alveda, ..I wanted you to know how much of an encouragement and inspiration you are to women such as myself. … I am so thankful for the things that you do and most importantly that you do it in the name of our most Holy Father. I am proud to see a woman who is a public figure fighting for the life of innocent babies, A woman who is speaking out in love for her sisters in Christ, not love for herself. You exemplify true “feminism” to women like me and I genuinely appreciate you. You make a difference not only in the large scale but in our daily lives. – Jessica
Just a Pinch of Incense
Fr. Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
W. A. Criswell, in The Offense of the Cross, points out,
“The Roman Empire was the most tolerant, the most liberal, the most wise, and the most accurate in its handling of the many provinces and religions of its empire of any kingdom that ever existed. Men could worship, have temples, and do as they pleased. And yet the Roman Empire and the Caesars persecuted the Christians. Why? For one simple reason: the Christian refused to compromise his faith with any other religion whatsoever.”
That refusal to compromise is seen in the response of the apostles themselves to the command not to teach in the name of Jesus: “We will obey God rather than men!” As it was in the beginning, so it is now. Christians in America face another one of those key moments – seen frequently in Scripture and Christian history – of conflict between the commands of civil authority and the demands of their faith. And believers of other traditions are standing with them as well.
The Obama Administration, implementing one of the provisions of “Obamacare,” has declared its intent and goal to increase access to various “preventive services” that include contraceptives and abortion-inducing drugs. This is an open, publicly-announced plan. Numerous Americans, and the religious traditions they embrace, teach that such “drugs and services” are immoral to use. Therefore, they oppose this plan.
But the conflict goes deeper than that. If those believers are also employers who offer their employees health insurance, the Obama Administration is requiring them to cooperate in the plan by making coverage for those drugs and services an essential part of those health insurance plans.
And that’s where we say “No!” If the government wants to expand access to these immoral – and in some cases lethal – activities, it’s going to need to do it without us. We do not want to be involved.
And that is the argument regarding the HHS mandate, and the theme of the multiple lawsuits that have been introduced against it. We at Priests for Life filed the fourth of what are now dozens of such lawsuits launched both by religious groups and for-profit businesses.
On Tuesday, March 25, the Supreme Court is hearing two consolidated cases on behalf of two of those businesses, Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods, run by believers who refuse to cooperate with the mandate. The Court will consider, among other things, whether the Religious Freedom Restoration Act applies to for-profit corporations to protect them from this mandate.
In a separate action, the Supreme Court is also being asked to take up the matter of the non-profit and religious entities who object to the mandate, and whose rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act are not in doubt. We at Priests for Life have petitioned the Supreme Court to hear our case, and this Friday, March 28, the Justices will consider whether or not they will do so.
The claim that the government is making is that it is in fact exempting the religious groups like Priests for Life from following the mandate. In fact, President Obama himself addressed this in his February 2 interview with Bill O’Reilly. The President said, “Here’s the way this thing works. All they have to do is sign a form saying they don’t — they are a religious institution —And — and they get what they want.”
In other words, the form we are being asked to sign states that we object to the mandate because of our institutional religious convictions. Then, our insurance policy will not have to include coverage of the objectionable drugs and services.
At first glance, that sounds quite reasonable to sign. But what the government says further is that upon us signing the form, and receiving the names of our employees on the plan, they will make separate provision to cover the objectionable drugs and services. In other words, by signing the form, we are still part of implementing the plan to provide access to those drugs and services. The form is an authorization; our employees are covered precisely because they are our employees. It’s not a matter of who pays for it; it’s a matter of being the gateway to the immoral activities.
President Obama, in his O’Reilly interview, seems to indicate that he understands this. He said, “The problem is they don’t want to sign the form — Because they think that that somehow makes them complicit.” Exactly right. And Mr. President, that’s not only what we and the other religious plaintiffs think; that’s precisely what our religion teaches. And the freedom to follow that teaching is precisely what you and the law need to respect.
All this may seem like a big deal to be making over the signing of a form. But to go back to W.A. Criswell, he points out, “When the Christians were invited just to bow down before the Roman image, their lives could be spared if they would merely take a pinch of incense and put it on the fire that burned in the presence of the image of the Roman Caesar. The Christian died rather than compromise with a pinch of incense.”
Whether it’s about government incense or a government form, we will obey God rather than men.
This column can be read and listened to online at Priestsforlife.org/columns/4926-just-a-pinch-of-incense
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Fr. Frank’s columns are podcast. See Priestsforlife.org/podcast
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Press Release: Fr. Pavone to Pray and Speak at Supreme Court on Tuesday
Priests for Life awaits response from Court re HHS Mandate
Washington, DC – Fr. Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will join other Americans concerned about the right to life and religious freedom at a rally in front of the US Supreme Court on Tuesday morning, March 25, when the Court will hear oral arguments in regard to the HHS Mandate. Further Supreme Court action on this matter is expected on the 28th in regard to Priests for Life.
The rally for religious freedom will take place from 9:30 to 11:30am ET.
Planned Parenthood is also expected to bring people to rally in favor of the mandate.
The oral arguments in the consolidated cases of Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Woods will begin inside the court at 10 and conclude at 11:30.
Priests for Life has been urging people to join a novena of prayer during these days for the reversal of the mandate. The prayers for each day can be found at PrayerCampaign.org.
“This is a moment of Biblical proportions,” Fr. Pavone explained. “Scripture, and all Christian history, are filled with moments of conflict between civil authority and people of faith. At every point, those people are called to obey God rather than man.
“We at Priests for Life also have a lawsuit against this mandate, and in fact were among the first to file one. We too have a petition to the Supreme Court to hear our case, and the Justices will consider whether they will do so this Friday, March 28,” Fr. Pavone commented. “The case being heard on Tuesday concerns the rights of for-profit businesses; in our case, the Court would be considering the rights of non-profit religious entities. Obviously, the Court eventually needs to address both.”
In its petition to the Supreme Court on behalf of Priests for Life, the American Freedom Law Center points out, “this challenge goes to the very core of Priests for Life’s reason for existing as an organization. Consequently, Petitioners are well situated—and perhaps best suited—to challenge the mandate and its application to non-exempt, nonprofit religious organizations.” The Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit has also consolidated the case brought by the Archdiocese of Washington and its related institutions together with that of Priests for Life.
Fr. Pavone concluded, “In the end, the matter is simple: We love our faith; we love our country, and we want to be able to do both at the same time.”
Priests for Life
PO Box 141172
Staten Island, NY 10314