|Fr. Frank Pavone
President, Priests For Life
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, D.C. — 4:58pm An emergency injunction granted just moments ago in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit means that Priests for Life will not have to obey the contraception mandate contained in the Affordable Care Act as its appeal is being heard. It also means that, tomorrow, Priests for Life will not have to cancel health insurance for its employees.
Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, said he is grateful his organization is free, temporarily at least, from having to comply with the unjust mandate or face steep fines by failing to comply when the ministry’s new insurance policy goes into effect on Wednesday.
“We would not have complied with this mandate in any case, as it promotes the very culture of death that Priests for Life works to combat,” Father Pavone said. “We are grateful for this temporary relief and look forward to a permanent injunction once the appeal is fully heard.”
“Our lawsuit was among the very first ones in the country and the necessity to launch it shows that religious freedom in America is in grave danger. We have to take action.”
On Dec. 19, Priests for Life learned that the judge in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia had ruled in favor of the government. Within an hour Priests for Life filed for the emergency injunction that was granted today.
Father Pavone said that what the Obama administration has tried to do through the HHS mandate – which he called a “blatant act of tyranny” – is to give the federal government the power to determine what is and what isn’t important in an individual’s religion; that is not the government’s role.
Father Pavone concluded, “There have already been significant victories in the courts against the HHS mandate, and we have no doubt that Priests for Life ultimately will prevail in this historic fight.”
|Justice Sonia Sotomayor|
Please consider, then, the result of your Administration’s current policies. In the coming year, no employer, large or small, will be required to offer a health plan at all. Employers face no penalty in the coming year (and only $2000 per employee afterwards) for canceling coverage against their employees’ wishes, compelling them to seek individual coverage on the open market. But an employer who chooses, out of charity and good will, to provide and fully subsidize an excellent health plan for employees – but excludes sterilization or any contraceptive drug or device – faces crippling fines of up to $100 a day or $36,500 a year per employee. In effect, the government seems to be telling employees that they are better off with no employer health plan at all than with a plan that does not cover contraceptives. This is hard to reconcile with an Act whose purpose is to bring us closer to universal coverage.
The government is “temporarily enjoined from enforcing against applicants the contraceptive coverage requirements imposed by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Sotomayor said in the order. She gave government officials until 10 a.m. EST Friday to respond to her order.
Mark Rienzi explained, “The Little Sisters are an order of Catholic nuns whose religious faith leads them to devote their lives to caring for the elderly poor. Not surprisingly, they have sincere and undisputed religious objections to complying with this Mandate.”
The Obama administration crafted a compromise, or accommodation, that attempted to create a buffer for religiously affiliated hospitals, universities and social service groups that oppose birth control. The law requires insurers or the health plan’s outside administrator to pay for birth control coverage and creates a way to reimburse them.
But for that to work, the nuns would have to sign a form authorizing their insurance company to provide contraceptive coverage, which would still violate their beliefs, he said.
“Without an emergency injunction, Mother Provincial Loraine Marie Maguire has to decide between two courses of action: (a) sign and submit a self-certification form, thereby violating her religious beliefs; or (b) refuse to sign the form and pay ruinous fines,” he said.
Sotomayor’s decision to delay the contraceptive portion of the law was joined by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, which also issued an emergency stay for Catholic-affiliated groups challenging the contraceptive provision. But one judge on the three-judge panel that made the decision, Judge David S. Tatel, said he would have denied their motion.
“Because I believe that appellants are unlikely to prevail on their claim that the challenged provision imposes a ‘substantial burden’ under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, I would deny their application for an injunction pending appeal,” Tatel said.
The full press release from the USCCB and letter from Archbishop Kurtz to President Obama can be viewed here.
Working from years of experience in defending Christian values, Frank Beckwith is here to offer a critique of moral relativism. He explores the inconsistencies inherent in the relativist position, suggests specific approaches that can be used in the course of dialogue, and considers the everyday implications of relativism, especially in relation to important issues such as: abortion, homosexuality, multiculturalism, political correctness, and tolerance. Frank joins us.
By Kathy Schiffer
“I did not intend any harm to come to him. The fact is, my best was not good enough to stop that harm. I am a parish priest. I should have stayed (one).”
–Monsignor William J. Lynn, speaking at his sentencing
about a victim of clergy abuse
|Monsignor William J. Lynn|
A Pennsylvania appeals court ruled December 26 that Monsignor William Lynn, secretary for clergy from for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004, was wrongly convicted in a criminal child endangerment case involving convicted former priest Edward Avery.
In his role as vicar for clergy under the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, Monsignor Lynn was responsible for handling clergy abuse cases. When an accusation was made that Father Avery had abused an altar boy, Monsignor Lynn recommended that the priest be sent to a rehabilitation center. Upon completion of treatment, and with the assurance of treatment professionals that the priest was indeed rehabilitated and unlikely to commit further acts of abuse, Father Avery was reassigned to another parish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
According to the appeals court ruling, the state’s child-endangerment law at the time of Father Avery’s transfer clearly applied only to parents and caregivers. The law was only amended in 2007 to include supervisors like Monsignor Lynn.
Monsignor Lynn has already served fifteen months of a three- to six-year sentence for his role in the handling of the case. Today’s decision overturns the legal basis for a prosecution that was viewed, according to the New York Times, as a “milestone in holding senior church officials accountable for keeping abuse reports secret in past decades and transferring predatory priests to unwary new parishes.”
With the conviction overturned, Lynn will likely be released immediately. Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams has indicated that he plans to appeal; but Thomas A. Bergstrom, a lawyer for Monsignor Lynn, called the ruling “a strong opinion by a unanimous court.” Bergstrom added, “He shouldn’t have been convicted. He shouldn’t have been sentenced.”
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