Rally for Religious Freedom set for Friday on Wall Street

Dr. Alveda King, Director of African-American Outreach for Priests for Life, and Janet Morana, co-founder of the Silent No More Awareness Campaign, will be the keynote speakers Friday, March 23rd at noon at the Rally for Religious Freedom at the Federal Hall National Memorial in Manhattan.

Similar rallies in over a hundred cities across the nation this Friday are part of a coordinated effort in which Priests for Life has played a leading role once the effort was initiated by the Pro-life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-life Society. The rallies protest the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) mandate requiring all employer health plans to include free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections. Catholic universities, hospitals and not-for-profits like Priests for Life will be forced by the federal government to provide services that directly contradict Church teaching.

“The mandate is a clear violation of the First Amendment and should be rescinded on that basis,” Dr. King said. “But beyond that, the mandate endangers women by giving them poison and calling it health care. Birth control pills are bad for women; abortifacients are bad for women. We need to tell the truth, and to make sure that our voices are heard.”

Other speakers at the Federal Hall bilingual rally will include Father Victor Salomon, Director of Hispanic Outreach for Priests for Life; Father Agustino Torres of the Franciscan Friars; Chris Slattery, founder of Expectant Mother Care; Monsignor Philip Reilly of Helpers of God’s Precious Infants; Bronx City Councilman Fernando Cabrera; Chris Bell, founder of Good Counsel Homes, and Dr. Anne Nolte of the St. Gianna Center for Women’s Health.

Priests for Life, which is organizing the New York City rally, filed the fourth of nine lawsuits against the Obama administration over the contraception/abortifacient mandate. The suit, filed Feb. 15 in Brooklyn Federal Court, seeks to permanently block the HHS mandate.

“Ours was the first lawsuit filed subsequent to the so-called ‘accommodation’ announced by the President on February 10, hence signaling to the administration in no uncertain terms that we did not consider his ‘accommodation’ helpful at all,” said Father Frank.

The lawsuits and rallies are accompanied by a prayer campaign to reverse the mandate; prayers for each day can be found at PrayerCampaign.org.

Federal Hall National Memorial is located at 26 Wall Street. For information, visit StandUpForReligiousFreedom.com, email Rally@PriestsForLife.org or call 347-286-7520.

An American Takeover of America

Senator Roy Blunt, who sponsored the amendment in the Senate that, had it received a few more votes, would have protected conscience rights of employers, said, “This is a debate that might be settled at that building across the street,” referring to the Supreme Court.

Indeed, as of this writing, eight different lawsuits have been launched against the Obama administration to block the unjust HHS mandate. I am proud to have authorized the fourth of these eight, Priests for Life vs. Sebelius, filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York on February 15, 2012. Ours was the first lawsuit filed subsequent to the so-called “accommodation” announced by the President on February 10, hence signaling to the administration in no uncertain terms that we did not consider his “accommodation” helpful at all.

The eight lawsuits so far, arranged by the date they were filed, are as follows:

November 10, 2011 Belmont Abbey College v. Sebelius
December 21, 2011 Colorado Christian University v. Sebelius
February 9, 2012 Eternal Word Television Network v. Sebelius
February 15, 2012 Priests for Life v. Sebelius
February 20, 2012 Louisiana College v. Sebelius
February 21, 2012 Ave Maria University v. Sebelius
February 21, 2012 Geneva College v. Sebelius
February 23, 2012 Bruning v. Sebelius (This is the one whose plaintiffs include the states of Nebraska, Texas, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.)

You may want to share this list with your local media, since some outlets continue to get the count wrong.

Though freedom of religion has been the theme most central to this debate, a common theme in these lawsuits is likewise freedom of speech. To quote from the Complaint we filed (which you can find on our web site), “The…mandate compels Priests for Life to provide education and counseling regarding contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and abortifacients…[and hence]…to engage in speech that violates its sincerely-held religious beliefs.”

Freedom of speech, in other words, by giving you the right to say what you want to say, necessarily also contains the right to not say what you don’t want to say, and it doesn’t matter if you are forced to say it yourself or to pay someone else to say it.

The Complaint also states that we have filed this suit “to protect the rights of all Americans.” Freedom of speech and freedom of religion do not belong only to religious groups, but to everyone. The other side wants to frame this battle as just a sectarian issue — most particularly a Catholic issue.

During the 2000 elections, a reporter said at a Priests for Life press conference at the National Press Club, “Fr. Frank is calling for a Vatican takeover of America.”

As I said then, I am not calling for any Vatican takeover of America; I’m calling for an American takeover of America! It’s fine to say we stand with our religious leaders, but let’s make it clear that they and we are standing with our Constitution and our great nation, rooted in God’s gift of freedom.

Priests for Life Announces Ongoing Novena re HHS Mandate

New York, NY – Fr. Frank is making available a prayer novena for the intention that the unjust HHS Mandate will be completely reversed.

“We already conducted a nationwide novena for this intention,” Fr. Frank explained, noting that Churches, schools, pro-life groups, families and individuals around the country were invited to participate. “But because the battle continues, so must the prayers. We therefore are announcing today that this is a continuous novena.”

The nine prayers can be found at priestsforlife.org/novenas/hhs-mandate.htm. The prayers are written in such a way that Christians of any denomination can use them. They focus on themes such as loyalty to God above any earthly authority, participation in the legislative process, repentance and conversion, conscience and religious freedom, enlightenment for civil leaders, courage for Church leaders, and unity. As one of the prayers says in part:

“Lord Jesus,
You continue to proclaim your Word
in your Church today.
Give us the same clarity, courage, and determination
That Your apostles had,
That we may not allow any obstacle or earthly power
To intimidate us into silence or compromise.”

Fr. Pavone also pointed out that these prayers can be particularly appropriate as people across the nation prepare for the religious freedom rallies to be held on March 23, and as they conduct those rallies. Priests for Life has been instrumental in assisting the planning of these national events, and is responsible for organizing the New York City rally for that day.

U.S. Citizens Sign On to “Amicus Brief” in Support of Lawsuit Against ObamaCare

Staten Island, NY — Priests for Life, a New York-based international pro-life organization of Catholic clergy and laity, today announced that any and all U.S. citizens who are opposed to the unjust HHS mandate can sign on to a Citizens “Amicus Brief” in support of the organization’s lawsuit against the Obama Administration.

The lawsuit, Priests for Life v. Sebelius, seeks to permanently block the implementation of the HHS mandate that imposes clear violations of conscience upon any and all citizens who morally object to abortion and contraception.

“Since the HHS mandate directly affects every U.S. citizen through compulsory funding of contraception and abortion-inducing drugs and devices, this effort gives everyone a chance to let their voice be heard if they oppose the mandate,” says Father Frank Pavone, National Director of Priests for Life.

Father Pavone elaborates: “Through various forms of compulsion, the HHS mandate forces all citizens to either pay for abortion-causing pills…promote them…or be penalized if citizens choose not to comply with these audacious dictatorial decrees. Americans will have no say in the matter if the HHS ruling isn’t repealed, rescinded, or rejected.”

One part of the lawsuit addresses the “forced speech” aspect of the controversial Health and Human Services mandate. According to the HHS regulations, virtually all U.S. employers will not only be forced to pay for 100% of an employee’s prescription for abortion-causing drugs, but also be forced to instruct the employee on how to obtain these morally-objectionable prescriptions and get them for free.

“This falls under the forbidden rubric of ‘forced speech’ – a corollary violation of every citizen’s right to free speech under the Constitution,” says lead attorney Charles LiMandri. Priests for Life is seeking injunctive relief from this unconstitutional decree, and inviting all concerned U.S. citizens to join them by signing on to the Citizens “Amicus Brief.”

Priests for Life has made it possible for everyone to sign on to the Citizens “Amicus Brief” with just the click of a mouse button by going to repealtheabortionmandate.com.

Priests for Life Associate Director is Arrested Outside White House

Click here for photos

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Father Denis Wilde, OSA, associate director of Priests for Life, was among six people arrested today during a peaceful protest outside the White House.

Father Wilde was representing Priests for Life at an organized protest of the HHS contraception mandate that violates the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of religion. Priests for Life yesterday filed a lawsuit against the Obama Administration that seeks to permanently block the implementation of the mandate because it imposes clear violations of conscience upon any American citizens who morally object to abortion and contraception.

Father Wilde and the other protesters, including the Rev. Pat Mahoney of the Christian Defense Coalition, were cited for “Failure to obey a lawful order” as they knelt in prayer in front of the White House. They each paid a $100 fine and were released from custody.

“Occupy Wall Street protesters have been occupying federal property for months, but when we kneel in prayer, the police are called in and we are arrested,” Father Wilde said. “We knew that was the risk when we gathered today, and we will do it again regardless of the risk. What people of faith – of every faith – need to do now is stand with us.”

Father Frank said the New York-based organization remains committed to battling the HHS mandate because it forces Americans to become morally entangled in practices they find objectionable.

“As an organization of Catholic clergy, as a corporation that employs 60 people of various religious backgrounds, and as a ministry whose very purpose is to protect and promote the pro-life teaching about the specific practices at issue in the HHS mandate, we are particularly well-positioned to fight against this intrusion of conscience,” Father Pavone said.

To see the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, on Wednesday, click here: priestsforlife.org/hhsmandate/priests-for-life-v-sebelius.pdf

Lawsuit Against ObamaCare and HHS Mandate Filed in Federal Court Today on Behalf of All U.S. Employers

Washington, D.C. — Priests for Life today announced the formal filing of a lawsuit against the Obama Administration, seeking to permanently block the implementation of the HHS mandate that imposes clear violations of conscience upon any and all citizens who morally object to abortion and contraception.

One part of the lawsuit seeks injunctive relief from the “forced speech” aspect of the controversial Health and Human Services ruling. According to the HHS regulations, virtually all U.S. employers will not only be forced to pay for 100% of an employee’s prescription for abortion-causing drugs, but also be forced to instruct the employee on how to obtain these morally-objectionable prescriptions and get them for free.

“This falls under the forbidden rubric of ‘forced speech’—a corollary violation of every citizen’s right to free speech under the Constitution,” says lead attorney Charles LiMandri.

The Obama Administration has received significant backlash against the HHS ruling because it requires employers to pay for abortion-related and other morally objectionable services.

“No matter what religion someone professes, requiring them to instruct their employees how to obtain abortion-inducing drugs — whether this instruction is given by them or someone they hire —- is an outrage, not to mention an egregious violation of civil rights and constitutional protections. We will not allow the Obama Administration to get away with this,” says Fr. Frank.

The so-called “accommodation” offered by the Administration does not solve the moral or legal problems employers face, and against which Priests for Life is objecting. Moreover, these “accommodations” have not been translated into policy. At this point, they are simply a Presidential speech.

The Priests for Life lawsuit, the first to be launched subsequent to the announcement of the “accommodations,” addresses policy as it currently stands.

This new lawsuit seeks injunctive relief from the HHS rules – first on behalf of Priests for Life, and then extending universally since all organizations and companies will be affected by the tyrannical HHS decree. Priests for Life is particularly well placed to pursue this litigation because its primary purposes are to promote and protect life whereas the primary purposes of the abortion/contraception/sterilization mandate are to prevent and destroy life.

According to Father Frank, “It has been suggested by the Administration that some groups have an extension of a year before the mandate goes into effect, so they can adapt to it. We don’t need a year, we don’t need a moment, because the mandate is unjust. You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it. Hence we’re launching this lawsuit.”

Priests for Life has retained noted civil rights attorney Charles LiMandri of San Diego to represent them in their lawsuit against Obama. LiMandri achieved national distinction by saving the famous “Mt. Soledad Cross” – a historic war memorial that had been erected on public property many decades ago, which local atheists sought to have torn down. He has also fought for the rights of San Diego firefighters who were forced to participate in a vulgar “gay pride” parade against their will or else face termination. He was also the General Counsel for the National Organization for Marriage-California during the Proposition 8 Campaign to save traditional marriage.

LiMandri remarks, “This is the first time in history any administration has used brute force to compel someone to violate his conscience or moral convictions. It’s unheard of. It’s also antithetical to the core American principles of religious liberty and freedom from invasions of privacy. We intend to fight the ill-conceived HHS edict and challenge it on constitutional grounds. This case could go all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, and we’ll be happy to take it there if need be. We will stand our ground, and we won’t back down.”

Priests for Life is the largest Catholic pro-life organization in the United States. It is a private association of the faithful and an independent 501(c)(3) non-profit educational corporation. Under the Obama Administration’s new HHS rules, it is treated like any other corporation and therefore must comply with these new conscience-violating mandates, decrees, and punitive measures.

Priests for Life applauds the members of Congress who have introduced legislation to address the HHS policy, and will also support the efforts of the Church, and many other groups, to pass such legislation.

Further details of the lawsuit will be forthcoming.

National Prayer Novena in response to HHS Mandate

Washington, DC — A national webcast on Wednesday night, February 15, will launch a national prayer campaign in response to the unjust mandate of President Obama’s HHS mandate, which violates the conscience and religious freedom of countless Americans.

The webcast and prayer effort have been organized by Priests for Life, the world’s largest Catholic pro-life ministry.

From 9 to 10 ET on Wednesday evening, people can join by phone or online to listen to experts like Congressman Chris Smith and Douglas Johnson, Federal Legislative Director for the National Right to Life Committee, explain exactly what the President has done and exactly what we can do to stop him.

Registration for the webcast is at priestsforlife.org/webcast/index.aspx.

Then, at the conclusion of the call, Father Frank will launch the prayer effort.

“We have composed a special novena prayer to be said from February 16 through the 24th, and it is available at PrayerCampaign.org,” Father Frank explained. “There will also be an additional prayer composed for each day, and posted on that prayer site. We urge individuals, families, schools, and Churches to join in this prayer effort and to let us know they are joining in by means of the form they will find at PrayerCampaign.org.

“This is a moment of profound significance, when we are defending the very principles for which martyrs died and our Founding Fathers established the nation. This is a moment of direct attack on our freedom of conscience and religion. Prayer is essential for us to know what to do, and to have the strength to do it,” Father Frank concluded.

No Compromise: The Mandate Has to Go, Period.

Many have asked me whether I think that the President’s announced “accommodation” regarding the HHS mandate for health insurance coverage of abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization is acceptable.

Absolutely not.

As many Catholics and non-Catholics point out, the principal problem is that the mandate is still in place. The President’s February 10 announcement changed none of that. What remains is that all employers — not just religious ones — have to provide health insurance for their employees, and all health insurance plans have to cover abortion-inducing drugs, contraceptives, and sterilization.

It’s a fiction to say that the insurer, not the employer, is now the one offering this coverage. It is an illusion to think there is any moral difference introduced by the February 10 “accommodation” of the Administration.

As Peggy Noonan wrote, “The short-term White House strategy is to confuse and obfuscate, to spread a thick web of untruths about the decision and let opponents exhaust themselves trying to fight from under the web.”

Simply put, freedom of conscience — which belongs not just to religious people but to every American — demands that people should “retain the right to provide, purchase, or enroll in health coverage that is consistent with their religious beliefs and moral convictions” (Respect for Rights of Conscience Act).

Apparently, more will be coming out from the Administration, during the year that it is giving to non-exempt religious groups to “adapt” to the mandate. But we don’t need a year, nor do we need a moment, to determine what we are going to do, or to “adapt” to the mandate. The mandate is unjust. You don’t adapt to injustice; you oppose it.

That’s why Priests for Life is launching a federal lawsuit against the Obama Administration to block the enforcement of this mandate on us, and to declare it unconstitutional.

That is also why we are garnering support for the Respect for Rights of Conscience Act (H.R. 1179, S. 1467).

This is why we are also helping to organize public rallies, protests, and acts of civil disobedience.

As an organization of Catholic clergy, as a corporation that employs 60 people of various religious backgrounds, and as a ministry whose very purpose is to protect and promote Church teaching about the specific practices at issue in this HHS mandate, we are particularly well-positioned to fight against this intrusion on the rights of conscience.

Moreover, we are convinced that the current mandate, if allowed to stand, paves the way for mandated coverage of abortion on demand, and we see no reason why those pushing for the mandate would not want that in the long run. If the HHS can add at any time to the list of “preventive services” for women, and argues that these services are cost-effective, how could they not argue for health insurance policies to cover abortion, as less expensive than childbirth?

As John Allen said, “There’s no room for compromise on this. The mandate has to go.”

Keep up with details at: PriestsForLife.org

Priests for Life vs. HHS Lawsuit: Full Speed Ahead

National Webcast and Prayer Effort Announced

New York, NY – Father Frank reiterated today that the lawsuit he announced last week against the HHS to block enforcement of the mandate requiring objectionable services to be included in health insurance is moving ahead at full speed.

“The so-called ‘accommodation’ announced on Friday by the President changes nothing,” Father Pavone explained. “The moral problem remains, the coercion remains, and therefore our legal challenge remains. We want the mandate rescinded, period.”

Priests for Life will release more information regarding its legal action this week. In the meantime, Priests for Life is organizing a national webcast for Wednesday night, Feb. 15, featuring Congressman Chris Smith as well as leaders of the National Right to Life Committee (David O’Steen, Ph.D., Executive Director, and Douglas Johnson, Federal Legislative Director) to discuss the Obama mandate and the action that can be taken. Charles LiMandri, the attorney for Priests for Life in regard to the federal lawsuit, will also be a presenter.

At the end of the webcast, Priests for Life will also launch a national novena of prayer, to last from Feb. 16 through the 24th. Churches and individuals are urged to participate, and more information will be available on the webcast. Sign up at priestsforlife.org/webcast.

Update on the HHS Mandate Situation

Well, the events of the last couple of days have been pretty hectic, with what we and many others have been doing in response to the Obama administration trying to force the payment of abortion-inducing drugs, contraception, and sterilization on those who object.

As you may have seen, we at Priests for Life have launched a federal lawsuit against the administration to block enforcement of this policy and have it declared unconstitutional.

Last night, I was with Sean Hannity, who invited a group of religious leaders to discuss this issue. We taped a special edition of Hannity which will air tonight (Feb 10) at 9pm ET. Tune in! One of the questions he asked us is whether we would be willing to go to jail rather than go along with this policy.

Then, the events of today, and the so-called “accommodation” by the Obama administration, have raised many questions.

But don’t be fooled. It isn’t a reversal and doesn’t solve the problem.

First of all, as Congressman Chris Smith points out, if an organization is paying a health insurer and then the insurer is paying for the abortion-inducing drugs, then we as an organization are still paying for them!

Secondly, religious freedom is not just for religious groups; it is for every American. This is not just a problem affecting Catholic or other religious entities. It affects everyone. Employers have consciences, even if their corporation isn’t a religious entity.

And health insurers have consciences, too. How does a requirement that they pay for abortion-inducing drugs respect their freedom of conscience?

We’re still going full speed ahead with our lawsuit. Stay tuned for more details, and please support our efforts with your prayers and donations!