Posted by: frroberts | September 24, 2015

The Pope’s surprise gesture against the Obama Administration

09/23/2015 Comments (6)
Courtesy Little Sisters of the Poor

Pope Francis converses Sept. 23 with Sister Marie Mathilde, a 102-year-old member of the Little Sisters of the Poor’s community in Washington.

– Courtesy Little Sisters of the Poor

WASHINGTON — Pope Francis paid a short visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor community in Washington on Wednesday to support them in their court case over the contraception mandate, the Vatican’s spokesman revealed.

It was a “short visit that was not in the program,” Father Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See Press Office, said at an evening press conference during the papal visit to the nation’s capital.

“This is a sign, obviously, of support for them” in their court case, he affirmed.

The sisters had filed a lawsuit against the Obama administration for its 2012 mandate that employers provide insurance coverage for birth control, sterilizations and drugs that can cause abortions employee health plans. The sisters have maintained that to provide this coverage would violate their religious beliefs.

After the Obama administration modified the rules as an “accommodation” for objecting organizations, the sisters held that even under the revised rules they would have to violate their consciences.

The majority of a three-judge panel for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in July that the Little Sisters of the Poor did not establish that the mandate was a “substantial burden” on their free exercise of religion, and thus ruled they still had to abide by the mandate.

“The Holy Father spoke to each of us individually, from the youngest postulant to our centenarian, and then he spoke to all of us about the importance of our ministry to the elderly,” Sister Constance Veit, communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor, said following the visit. “We were deeply moved by his encouraging words.”


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