Waiting For Obama On Religious Liberty – Priests for Life is ready to reach a solution, as the Supreme Court directed.

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The Supreme Court could have settled the question of whether federal bureaucrats may issue punishing, perhaps incapacitating, fines to faith-based organizations that refuse to participate in what we believe to be evil. Instead, the justices sent all of the cases in Zubik back to the four federal circuit courts that heard them first. The high court also asked those appeals courts to step away momentarily and give the two sides time to resolve the case on their own.

What will the administration do now? The White House’s latest “accommodation” proposal for religious nonprofit charities, schools and other organizations did not satisfy the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The proposal and each of its previous versions required faith-based groups seeking an exemption from the mandate to submit a form to an authority. Without this initiating action, abortion-causing drugs would not be made available to our employees. The basic requirement that we be complicit in the provision of abortifacients and other life-denying drugs, devices and procedures was a part of every government proposal. When we responded that we are forbidden by our faith to take part in this scheme—the government effectively retorted, “So what?

But both sides in Zubik have told the Supreme Court that a solution is theoretically possible.

For instance, the administration could, for once, actually listen to the Zubik petitioners—and to the scores of other faith-based groups that have lawsuits pending in lower courts—and propose a solution that does not hijack our health-insurance plans. The administration could, for example, make abortifacient/contraceptive coverage available to religious nonprofit employees through the ObamaCare exchanges, Title X (the federal program devoted to family-planning services), or separate arrangements with our own or another insurance company. In other words, don’t involve us, or the health-insurance plan we offer our employees, in the effort to expand coverage of abortion-inducing drugs.

The administration might be tempted to come up with a proposal that satisfies only those groups that have third-party insurance coverage—and not those that self-insure. This wouldn’t be acceptable, because self-insurers underwrite their own health-insurance plans and are, practically speaking, their own insurance companies. A government “accommodation” that offered as its only option a requirement that insurers of religious nonprofit groups offer the employees of those groups separate plans for abortifacients and contraceptives would still force self-insured religious groups to violate their faith.

Read the entire article in The Wall Street Journal: http://www.wsj.com/articles/waiting-for-obama-on-religious-liberty-1465163311

Fr. Pavone: Anti-coercion bill in Michigan is pro-woman

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“We know through our decades of work with our Rachel’s Vineyard and the Silent No More Awareness Campaign ministries that many women are coerced into abortion. Where is freedom of choice when women are forced by parents, boyfriends or husbands to end the life of the child they are carrying?

Read the entire Press Release: http://www.priestsforlife.org/library/5729-fr-pavone-anti-coercion-bill-in-michigan-is-pro-woman

Supreme Court Order in Priests for Life vs. HHS (Part of Zubik vs. Burwell).. Further Comments from Priests for Life

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“We are encouraged by today’s development. The Supreme Court could have ruled against us, but evidently the Obama Administration did not succeed in persuading them to do so. A split Court could also have let the lower court’s negative ruling stand, but again, they did not see fit to do that. Instead, the Supreme Court, upon receiving further briefings, vacated the lower court rulings, and offered the parties an opportunity to work out a mutually acceptable solution in the lower courts, that will both allow the government to pursue its objectives and allow us to practice our faith. We are committed to continuing that process in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.”

 

Read the entire Statement from Priests for Life: http://www.priestsforlife.org/pressreleases/5715-supreme-court-order-in-priests-for-life-vs-hhs

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

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 This reflection is taken from my book Pro-Life Reflections for Every Day, which is available for purchase at: ProLifeReflectionsForEveryDay.org

“Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and he was obedient to them” (Luke 2:51).

Reflection: Though he was conceived of a virgin, Jesus nevertheless lived as a son in a human family. The family is the sanctuary of life. The family, above all, is where life is to be welcomed, no matter how fragile or inconvenient it may be. One of the many reasons why the Church sees abortion and euthanasia as pre-eminent issues is because these crimes are committed by one family member upon another.

Prayer: O Holy Family, bless our families, and lead us to a Culture of Life. Amen.

Equal rights of all human beings

prolife3So did you see the letter that Susan Rice, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, wrote to President Obama yesterday asking him not to nominate her for Secretary of State? In the first paragraph, she praises the “vision and leadership” of the President, and the Administration’s “successes,” including, in her words, “our bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings regardless of their race, religion, economic status or whom they love.”

This made me wonder if Susan Rice has her countries confused.

The Obama Administration, whether at the U.N. or anywhere else, does not defend the “equal rights of all human beings.” First of all, the reference to equal rights “regardless of…religion” is laughable in the light of the Administration’s ongoing attack on religious freedom. “Regardless of…religion” should mean even religions that would prohibit employers to offer coverage of abortion-inducing drugs in the health insurance plans they offer to employees. Yet instead, the Administration is attempting to force such people to violate their religion – including us at Priests for Life, which is why we launched one of the first lawsuits against the HHS and its unjust mandate.

But even more fundamental than the right to religious freedom is the right to life.

And the Obama Administration fails miserably here as well. The defense of legal abortion is, by definition, a defense of the proposition that Roe vs. Wade made that “the word ‘person’…does not include the unborn.” The first of the “equal rights of all human beings” is the right to life. Every other right depends on it. Equality is not equality if some human beings – those living in the womb – are not recognized and protected as equal.

Susan Rice has been criticized for a lot of things. Unfortunately, she just added to the list. She is apparently unable to tell the difference between a “bold defense of the equal rights of all human beings” and a bold denial of them.

Today’s Pro-Life Reflection

“Life is always a good. …Why is life a good?… The life which God gives man is …a manifestation of God in the world, a sign of his presence, a trace of his glory” (John Paul II, The Gospel of Life, n.34).

Reflection: Abortion advocates say that the embryo or fetus is “just a collection of cells.” But this is no argument at all. The same can be said of you and me. If someone does not see the dignity of the human person, their view of people is just reduced to cells.

Prayer: Fill us with wonder, Lord, at your glory shining through every human life. Amen.

Lawsuits against HHS mandate continue with Obama re-election

 

STATEN ISLAND, NY — Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, welcomed news that the first lawsuit filed against the Obama administration’s HHS mandate will be heard by a federal appeals court.

The suit, brought by Belmont Abbey College in North Carolina, will be heard Dec. 14 by the U.S. Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia.

Priests for Life’s lawsuit, filed in February, was the fourth of some 30 actions that challenge the constitutionality of the mandate.

“A different outcome on Election Day, followed by the elimination of this mandate, would have resolved the problems these lawsuits seek to correct. Now, however, they are more important than ever,” said Father Pavone. “This administration is on a collision course with the Catholic Church, and with anyone who treasures the religious liberty guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution. It’s encouraging that the Court of Appeals has decided to hear the Belmont Abbey suit, and I’m confident Priests for Life’s suit also will have its day in court and that we will prevail.

“Meanwhile, we invite all citizens to express their solidarity with us by signing the “Citizens’ Amicus Brief” at www.priestsforlife.org/hhsmandate/amicus-brief.aspx.”

 

Priests for Life is the nation’s largest Catholic pro-life organization dedicated to ending abortion and euthanasia. For more information, visit www.priestsforlife.org.

Father Scott Daniels makes TV debut tonight on “Defending Life”

Father Scott Daniels, O.P., a pastoral associate for Priests for Life, will have his television debut tonight as the new season of “Defending Life” kicks off on EWTN.

Father Daniels has been passionate about pro-life issues since his seminary days in the 1980s. Since 2009, when he was granted permission to work full-time as a priest associate with Priests for Life, he has been traveling across the country, leading pro-life parish weekends, teaching school children and speaking at pro-life events.

Tonight’s show will focus on ways to evaluate candidates for political office.

“I am thrilled to have an opportunity to co-host ‘Defending Life’ on EWTN,” Father Daniels said. “Television gives us a unique opportunity to go into people’s homes to tell the truth about the issues that really matter. With Election Day less than three weeks away, what matters now is choosing the right candidate.”

Mrs. Morana agreed. “Voters must make sure they know how every candidate for every office feels about abortion,” she said. “The life issue is the most important at every level of government, because without the right to life, the rest of our rights are meaningless.”

The show can be seen on EWTN every Thursday at 11 p.m. and every Saturday at 2:30 a.m. It can be heard on EWTN Radio every Friday at 1 a.m., Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 5 a.m. (All times Eastern). The series also will feature Janet Morana, Executive Director of Priests for Life, as co-host, along with Fr. Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director.

For more information about “Defending Life, go to www.priestsforlife.org/defendinglife.

 

Fr. Pavone to receive Henry Hyde Award from American Catholic Press

 

Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life, will be honored with the 2012 Henry Hyde Award at the annual benefit dinner of the American Catholic Press (ACP). The dinner will take place Oct. 26 in Flossmoor, Ill.

The award named for the late chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a longtime advocate for the unborn, grew out of another award, the Gratiam Dei Award, bestowed annually by the ACP and awarded to Illinois Rep. Henry Hyde in 1998. Subsequent honorees included Joe Scheidler of the Pro-Life Action League and Norma McCorvey, the “Janet Roe” of the Roe vs. Wade decision. After Rep. Hyde’s death in 2007, the organization decided to dedicate a second award, in his name, to those who work tirelessly in the pro-life movement.

“The prestigious Henry Hyde Award will be presented to Father Frank Pavone, who has advocated the pro-life cause for many years,” said Father Michael Gilligan, executive director. “Father Frank is known nationwide through publications, articles, media, and public speaking. His non-profit organization, Priests for Life, is wholly dedicated to the pro-life cause.”

The Cleary Family of Chicago will be this year’s recipients of the Gratiam Dei Award for their decades of service to area schools and churches and their support of ACP.

American Catholic Press was incorporated in 1972 as a not-for-profit. Its publications include the Leaflet Missal, “Parish Liturgy” magazine, “Diocesan Dialogue” and numerous books, all aimed at promoting liturgical renewal of the Latin Rite of the Catholic Church. The annual benefit dinner helps to fund ACP’s ongoing commitment to provide Leaflet Missal prayerbooks to shut-ins.

“I am honored to be receiving this award named for a man whom I was privileged to know personally, and with whom I discussed the cause of life numerous times,” Father Pavone said. “Congressman Hyde inspired me and millions of others. He was not simply a politician, but a statesman, and embodied the kind of people we need to elect to public office.”

For information on the benefit, go to www.americancatholicpress.org

 

 

Can the Government Veto a Sermon?

Friends,

Lots happening this weekend… It’s Respect Life Sunday (and we have resources at ProLifePreaching.com), it’s Life Chain Sunday (and I’ll be participating in one in Detroit… I hope all the Life Chain organizers are ready to collect names, numbers, and emails of the participants to help engage them throughout the year!), it’s the opening of the Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization (Priests for Life was pleased to send input to the synod on the connections between new evangelization and the pro-life movement) – but what I want to focus on for a moment here is that it is also “Pulpit Freedom Sunday.”

Here’s the question: May the government filter, edit, or veto the contents of a sermon?  No court has ever heard a case regarding whether the Internal Revenue Service can do so. Yet every day – and especially in these weeks prior to an election – preachers act as if their sermons have to be vetted and approved by the IRS.

Indeed, the IRS issues guidelines saying that in order to retain its tax exemption, Churches and other organizations set up as “501 (c)(3)” entities must avoid any intervention in a political campaign.

But this restriction is not in the Constitution. In fact, it only goes back to 1954, to a provision that has no legislative history and has never been challenged in court.

And the result of the restriction, and the ambiguity often surrounding it (because the IRS says that all the “facts and circumstances” have to be taken into account to determine exactly when a preacher has “crossed the line,” therefore meaning in practice that you may not know that you’ve crossed the line until after the fact), what in fact happens is that speech is chilled and pastors do far less than they are able to do.

Since 2008, therefore, pastors across the nation have begun to rise up with a simple message: No government interference in the pulpit! They have decided, on a designated weekend, to preach sermons outside the usual restrictions of the IRS, and have sent those sermons to the IRS. The hope is that this will lead to a court case that can clarify whether the restrictions are in fact even constitutional.

In 2008, some 33 pastors did this. The IRS did not respond.

In 2009, some 84 pastors did this. Again, only silence from the IRS.

In 2010, a hundred pastors engaged in this project. The IRS raised no complaint.

Last year, 539 pastors sent in their sermons challenging the IRS restrictions. And nothing but silence came from the IRS.

This year’s numbers will surpass all the previous years.

It seems clear that the IRS does not want the 1954 restrictions subjected to court scrutiny. We will report more of what happens as a result of this Pulpit Freedom Sunday. Stay tuned!

Fr. Frank