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Another Victory: Priests for Life Wins in the U.S. Court of Appeals

Fr. Frank Pavone
President, Priests For Life

The big news yesterday afternoon was Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s emergency stay, blocking implementation of the HHS Mandate for the Little Sisters of the Poor–but there have been other victories, too.  

Also yesterday, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit granted an emergency injunction to Priests For Life, so that the organization will not have to cancel its health insurance for its employees.

Here is their press release announcing the victory.
                                                

12/31/2013 
     
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.”

BREAKING: Justice Sotomayor Blocks Implementation of HHS Mandate

Justice Sonia Sotomayor
By Kathy Schiffer

Only hours before the law was to take effect, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor has blocked implementation of part of President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. 

The legislation in question would have forced religion-affiliated organizations to provide health insurance for employees covering a range of preventive care, free of charge, including contraception.  Failure to implement Obamacare coverage by the January 1 deadline would have resulted in substantial penalties.   Since the Catholic Church prohibits the use of contraceptives, lawyer Mark Rienzi argued that the mandated insurance was not acceptable.

Sotomayor’s stay follows a late-afternoon request to President Obama from Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, archbishop of Louisville and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.  Archbishop Kurtz had asked President Obama to grant Catholic organizations temporary relief from penalties for noncompliance with the requirements of the HHS Mandate.  Archbishop Kurtz explained the consequences which the Affordable Care Act for Catholic social service and educational organizations:

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. 

According to a report from the Associated Press, Justice Sotomayor acted on a request from the Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged in Denver.  The Sisters’ request for an emergency stay had been denied earlier in the day by a federal appeals court.

According to Associated Press:

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.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 27, 2013

Talking About “The Things That Matter Most” on December 27

COUNTDOWN OF THE TOP 40 INTERVIEWS OF 2013

4:00 – #23 – The Gettysburg Address Turns 150 Years Old
On the Civil War battlefield where President Abraham Lincoln gave a speech that symbolized his presidency and the sacrifices made by Union and Confederate forces, thousands gathered today, historians and everyday Americans alike, to ponder what the Gettysburg Address has meant to the nation. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address — delivered 150 years ago today, took place here nearly five months after the major battle that left tens of thousands of men wounded, dead or missing. We talk to Ronald White Jr. who has written one of the most authoritative biographies of our 16th President, A. Lincoln: A Biography

4:40 – #22 – All-American Horror Story: Top 10 Kermit Gosnell Trial Revelations
Since so many in the media have failed/refused to report on the late-term abortionist/infant serial killer Kermit Gosnell trial happening right now in Philadelphia, Kristan Hawkins, Director of Students for Life, has rounded up a top 10 list of the most gruesome, horrific revelations that have come out during the trial. She joins us.

5:00 – #21 – Matt Maher: Songwriter, Worship Leader and Catholic Witness
Matt Maheris a contemporary Christian music artist, songwriter, and worship leader originally from Newfoundland, Canada. He has written and produced six solo albums to date. Three of his albums have reached the Top 25 Christian Albums Billboard chart and four of his singles have reached the Top 25 Christian Songs chart. He is a practicing Catholic and is here today to discuss his faith, his music and his inspirations.

5:40 – #20 – Relativism: Feet Firmly Planted in Mid-Air

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.

Philadelphia Appeals Court Overturns Conviction of Msgr. William Lynn in Abuse Case

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.”

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 26. 2013

Talking About “The Things That Matter Most” on December 26
COUNTDOWN OF THE TOP 40 INTERVIEWS OF 2013

4:00 – #27 – What to Expect When No One’s Expecting: America’s Coming Demographic Disaster
Look around you and think for a minute: Is America too crowded? For years, we have been warned about the looming danger of overpopulation: people jostling for space on a planet that’s busting at the seams and running out of oil and food and land and everything else. It’s all bunk. The “population bomb” never exploded. Instead, statistics from around the world make clear that since the 1970s, we’ve been facing exactly the opposite problem: people are having too few babies. Jonathan Last is here to explain why the population implosion happened and how it is remaking culture, the economy, and politics both at home and around the world. Because if America wants to continue to lead the world, we need to have more babies.
4:40 – #26 – Things Continue to Go Downhill With the LCWR
In his first address to representatives of U.S. Catholic sisters since his appointment in April 2012, the archbishop tasked by the Vatican to oversee their leadership group reportedly had little to offer regarding the reason for Vatican concern or how the process goes forward. Leaving last Thursday’s closed-door meeting between Seattle Archbishop J. Peter Sartain and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), several sisters said they felt frustration at the lack of detail given by the prelate nearly 19 months into his mandate. Sartain met Thursday afternoon with some 825 LCWR members, who are representatives of orders of Catholic sisters around the country. The Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has named the prelate the group’s “apostolic delegate” and given him wide power to revise its statutes and programs. Ann Carey, author of “Sisters in Crisis,” joins us.
5:00 – #25 – The Global Public Square: Religious Freedom and the Making of a World Safe for Diversity
How do we live with our deepest differences? In a world torn by religious conflict, the threats to human dignity are terrifyingly real. Some societies face harsh government repression and brutal sectarian violence, while others are divided by bitter conflicts over religion’s place in public life. Is there any hope for living together peacefully? Os Guinness argues that the way forward for the world lies in promoting freedom of religion and belief for people of all faiths and none. He sets out a vision of a civil and cosmopolitan global public square, and how it can be established by championing the freedom of the soul—the inviolable freedom of thought, conscience and religion. In particular he calls for leadership that has the courage to act on behalf of the common good. Far from utopian, this constructive vision charts a course for the future of the world. Soul freedom is not only a shining ideal but a dire necessity and an eminently practical solution to the predicaments of our time. We can indeed maximize freedom and justice and learn to negotiate deep differences in public life. For a world desperate for hope at a critical juncture of human history, here is a way forward, for the good of all
5:40 – #24 – What Are Church Leaders From the Pope to Nuns on the Ground Saying About Possible International Intervention in Syria?
Pope Francis has renewed his call for peace in Syria, urging international leaders to “find a solution to a war that sows destruction and death.” The secretary of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace said that “the conflict in Syria has all the ingredients to explode into a war of global dimensions.” The Patriarch of the Maronite Catholic Church and the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Antioch emphasized in a joint statement that they are “opposed to any foreign armed intervention in Syria.” Also Pope Francis has called upon all the faithful worldwide to join in a day of prayer and fasting of September 7 for peace in the Middle East, and especially in Syria. We talk with Matthew Bunson about what the Universal Church is saying about military intervention in Syria.

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 24, 2013

Talking about the “Things That Matter Most” on December 24

Christmas Eve Special

4:00 – A Dramatic Reading of Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales”
A Child’s Christmas in Wales is a prose work by the Welsh poet Dylan Thomas. Originally emerging from a piece written for radio, the poem was recorded by Thomas in 1952. The story is an anecdotal retelling of a Christmas from the view of a young child and is a romanticized version of Christmases past, portraying a nostalgic and simpler time. It is one of Thomas’ most popular works. Deal Hudson and Al present their dramatic reading of the piece.

4:20 – Must Watch Christmas Films
Deal Hudson and Al discuss the most memorable, funniest, most touching and most edifying Christmas films of all time. Watch the Kresta Guest Archives after the show for the list!!

5:00 – Must Watch Christmas Films
Deal Hudson and Al discuss the most memorable, funniest, most touching and most edifying Christmas films of all time. Watch the Kresta Guest Archives after the show for the list!!

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 19, 2013

Talking About the Things That Matter Most on December 19
COUNTDOWN OF THE TOP 40 INTERVIEWS OF 2013
#40  –  10 Honorable Mentions
Angela Franks             Contraception and Catholicism                                
Teresa Tomeo             Bucket List                                                     
Michael Coren            The Future of Catholicism                            
Sarah Reinhard           Catholic Apps                                                
Michael Novak           Writing from Left to Right                           
Gary Muchuta             Making Sense of Mary                                              
Mark Shea                  By What Authority?                                      
Conor Gallagher          If Aristotle had an IPod                                            
Elizabeth Scalia           Strange Gods                                                 
Mary Eberstadt          How the West Really Lost God        
4:00  – #39 – Pope Benedict XVI Resigns
It was a shock to the world – even the head of the Vatican Press Office. On Feb. 11 Pope Benedict XVI resigned the office of Pope. It triggered an amazing series of events that, of course, brought us to Pope Francis. That afternoon we compiled some of the great minds and analysts of Church affairs for a roundtable discussion: Matthew Bunson, Jimmy Akin, Ralph Martin and more.
5:00- The Charismatic Renewal, the Pope, and the Church 
When the newly elected Pope Francis appeared at the window before the cheering crowd in St Peter’s Square, and promptly bowed down asking the people to pray for him, most of the public at large was charmed, but puzzled. Pope Benedict too had asked the people to pray for him from the outset, but without the bowed head. To some spectators, however—including the members of the Catholic Charismatic Renewal and their counterparts in the Protestant and Orthodox worlds—the gesture came as something surprisingly familiar.  In the “charismatic” galaxy, prayer is offered and asked for in this way by people of all levels—specifically, prayer for a renewed outpouring of the Holy Spirit. We talk to Dr. Mary Healy, head of the Doctrinal Commission of the International Catholic Charismatic Renewal Services

5:40 – Innocence: A Novel

He lives in solitude beneath the city, an exile from society, which will destroy him if he is ever seen. She dwells in seclusion, a fugitive from enemies who will do her harm if she is ever found. But the bond between them runs deeper than the tragedies that have scarred their lives. Something more than chance—and nothing less than destiny—has brought them together in a world whose hour of reckoning is fast approaching. It’s the latest novel from the Catholic bestselling author Dean Koontz who blends mystery, suspense, and acute insight into the human soul in a masterfully told tale that will resonate with readers forever. He joins us.

Prayer Need: Man Sets Himself on Fire in St. Peter’s Square

This morning in St. Peter’s Square, a man doused himself with gasoline and set himself on fire.
A Jesuit priest standing nearby attempted to smother the flames with a jacket, before police officers stepped in with fire extinguishers.  The two police officers were successful in extinguishing the flames, but they suffered smoke inhalation and burns to their hands and are now hospitalized for treatment.
The 51-year-old man was treated at a nearby hospital, then transported to a larger one.  He is reported to be suffering from serious burns to his upper body.
In his pocket was a note with his daughter’s contact information; but there has been no explanation for why he set himself afire.
This is not the first time an individual has self-immolated in St. Peter’s Square.  On January 13, 1998, an Italian writer by the name of Alfredo Ormando set himself on fire in the Square to protest the Catholic Church’s opposition to the homosexual lifestyle.  He was rushed to Sant’Eugenio hospital in critical condition, but died eleven days later.

Catholic League Supports Archbishop Nienstedt, Seeks Information

Following Archbishop Nienstedt’s decision yesterday to step down from his post as Archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis during an investigation into a scurrilous allegation of sexual impropriety, Bill Donohue at the Catholic League has published a statement praising the Archbishop, and asking for anyone with information about the case to contact him personally.

Here is the full statement.

December 18, 2013
ARCHBISHOP NIENSTEDT DESERVES JUSTICE
Bill Donohue comments on the decision by Saint Paul and Minneapolis Archbishop John C. Nienstedt to temporarily step down:
Archbishop Nienstedt has been the subject of a non-stop crusade orchestrated by ex-Catholics, and Catholics in rebellion against the Church, simply because he stands for everything they are not: he is a loyal son of the Catholic Church.
Now—out of the blue—comes an unidentified male who claims he was touched on his buttocks in 2009 by the archbishop while posing for a group photo. Nienstedt denies the charge, adding that he has never inappropriately touched anyone. Moreover, he has not been told the identity of his accuser.
The Catholic League is asking those who were there to share with us any information they have. Specifically, we are interested in obtaining a tape recording, or set of photos, of any Confirmation ceremony in 2009 where Archbishop Nienstedt was present; presumably, the alleged victim was standing next to the archbishop. Also, we are asking anyone who knows anything about the accuser (someone knows who he is) to come forward.  Please email us at pr@catholicleague.org .
I know of no other leader, religious or secular, who would step down pending an investigation because some guy says he was touched on his behind four years ago in a group photo. It’s time the bishops revised their “zero tolerance” policy. Too often, it means zero justice for the accused, thus undermining the legal principle of innocent until proven guilty.
When it comes to “zero tolerance” in the schools, every teachers union, as well as the New York Times, has counseled against it. With good reason: it does not allow for the nuances that color so many cases. The bishops ought to follow suit and junk this policy before it becomes the weapon of choice against them.

The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights
450 Seventh Avenue
New York, NY 10123
Phone: 212-371-3191
Fax: 212-371-3394

Today on "Kresta in the Afternoon" – December 18, 2013

Talking about the “things that matter most” on December 18

4:00 – Reflections on the Christian Life: How Our Story is
God’s Story
In our hearts, we know that every event in our lives is providential and that each of us plays a critical role in the unfolding of the story God has written. We believe that God’s will is anchored deep within our soul, and so too is the desire to know it and to live it. Acclaimed Catholic author Anthony Esolen claims that the story of your life has already been written and can be discovered by considering the life and person of Jesus. Only in God does the world possess meaning, and therefore, only in relation to God, are our lives genuine stories. He is here to discuss his proposition.

5:00 – Kresta Comments

5:20 – Having an Incredible Impact on the Poor This Christmas
In Kenya, the Sacred Mercy Schools are located in the thick of abject poverty, where children beg on the streets and where a generation of parents has been virtually wiped out by AIDS. This is work done “in the trenches” where hunger, illiteracy and despair must be battled by the Catholic Church for hope to prevail. But Cross Catholic International Outreach is there to welcome children off the streets and provide them with a quality education, daily nutritious lunches and a firm grounding in Catholic moral values. Jim Cavnar of is here to talk about their partnership with Ave Maria Radio to provide scholarships for Kenyan children. And other practical ways to serve the poor this Christmas season with their catalogue of need. You select an item on the catalog and that item gets shipped to a poor family in need overseas. Shoes, powdered milk, Catholic children’s books, vitamins, seeds and more. Things we take for granted that they are overjoyed to receive for Christmas.

5:00 – Kresta Comments

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