The government abortion/contraception mandate (the so-called, "HHS mandate,") has receded from the forefront of news headlines. But, once again, it is about to rear its ugly head in threat to the good conscience of Catholics everywhere, this time against the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Three federal appeals courts have heard cases brought by religious non-profit organizations, challenging the so-called "accommodation" (see my blog, explaining this "accommodation": http://blog.archny.org/steppingout/?p=3276). Unfortunately, all three courts have ruled against the religious organizations (which included the University of Notre Dame, the Michigan Catholic Conference, Priests for Life, and the Archdiocese of Washington DC). While there have been many lower court rulings against the HHS mandate and accommodation, these rulings by appellate courts (which are just one step below the Supreme Court) are very troubling.
The next major court battle is just around the corner. On December 8th the Little Sisters of the Poor will have their day in court in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. This is a critical moment. The Little Sisters present perhaps the best and clearest example of a religious organization that is faced with an existential threat by the HHS mandate (see my explanation here: http://blog.archny.org/steppingout/?p=3076). A victory by the Little Sisters will send a clear message to the Supreme Court, and will increase the chances that other religious non-profits will be protected from the ruinous fines that would be imposed under the HHS mandate. A defeat could subject the Little Sisters to as much as $50 million in fines for following their conscience -- that would put them out of business, and also send an ominous message about the future of religious liberty in America.
Sincerely in Christ,
Director of Public Policy
And here is some encouragement from the Respect Life Coordinator for the Archdiocese of New York:
I would urge you to spread word of this via all social media outlets (e.g. Facebook and Twitter). It is vitally important that we show our support for the Little Sisters of the Poor http://www.littlesistersofthepoor.org/ and pray for the attorneys who will be representing them at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty http://www.becketfund.org/littlesisters/ and also pray for wisdom for the three judges who will be hearing their case. If you are able to offer some form of fast/sacrifice for this intention that would be great.
Finally, since December 8th is the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, let us ask our Lady, Patroness of the United States of America, to powerfully intercede to protect our nation and its God given freedoms. For prayer resources see http://www.usccb.org/issues-and-action/religious-liberty/prayer-resources.cfm
Thank you and God bless you.
Sr. Lucy Marie
Archdiocese of New York
1011 First Ave, 7th floor
New York, NY 10022