10th Circuit Rules First Amendment Protections Don’t Apply to Little Sisters of the Poor

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Goat_Girl https://www.flickr.com/photos/112363286@N08/

The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the Little Sisters of the Poor are not affiliated with a specific church and they are a non-profit, so the First Amendment doesn’t apply to them.

Ditto for the Christian Brothers Services and Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, the Catholic organization through which the Little Sisters buy their insurance.

While that may sound a bit off-the cuff, it’s the gist of the ruling.

This is how the on-going war against people of faith is played out. It rides in on the back of the legal sophistry that the First Amendment only applies to recognized churches and then only to what is done within the aegis of that recognized church. The verbiage is to limit “freedom of religion” to “freedom to worship.” This kind of limitation effectively destroys our most cherished freedoms, including freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion.

The 10th Circuit has bought into this fiction big time, because … well … because they are idiots. Or rather, because they are ideologues. But, to paraphrase Mark Twain, I repeat myself.

There is a growing — and I mean rapidly growing — opinion in this country that We the People should begin to ignore the courts. That is a dangerous notion that I will write about at length later. But the public attitude underlying it has its roots in this kind of absurd ruling. This is a re-writing and abrogation of the First Amendment that damages the freedoms and liberties of every American citizen today and into future generations.

The people who support this are throwing away their own freedoms for no other reason than a desire to get at someone whose opinion and beliefs they do not share. The courts are playing fool to this because — and this seems obvious — at least a number of members of the judiciary are ideologues with only a narrow understanding of their responsibilities to our country.

This particular move is a result of the HHS Mandate which is a result of the hubris of a president who seems addicted to an imperial view of himself and his office. How many times has President Obama made statements that he can enact policy without Congress? How many times has Congress answered him in the affirmative?

Congress has always had the power to rescind the HHS Mandate. They did not have to let it go into effect in the first place. They have not used this power in any way except as a campaign tool to win elections. If campaign promises were Congressional action, this would be an entirely different country. It would be a country in which We the People would have some hope of making a difference when we vote.

As it is, most of us have figured out that, no matter who we elect, they end up lying to us, ignoring us and doing things that hurt us. Why should we be surprised when the judges these folks appoint behave in the same way?

The 10th Circuit does not necessarily have the last say on this issue. The Supreme Court can chose to hear the case and overturn this ruling. The question is, will they?

As for the Little Sisters of the Poor, they intend to continue in their ministry and stay faithful to their faith. This is the challenge and the example for each and every one of us.

From CNA Daily News here at Patheos:

Disappointment follows ruling against Little Sisters in mandate case

Denver, Colo., Jul 14, 2015 / 11:29 am (CNA/EWTN News).- The Little Sisters of the Poor have reiterated their commitment to following their conscience as they care for the poor and dying, following a federal appeals court ruling that they must obey the federal contraception mandate.

“As Little Sisters of the Poor, we simply cannot choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith,” said Mother Provincial Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire.

“And we should not have to make that choice, because it violates our nation’s commitment to ensuring that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. For over 175 years, we have served the neediest in society with love and dignity. All we ask is to be able to continue our religious vocation free from government intrusion.”

Sr. Maguire responded to a Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling against the Little Sisters of the Poor on July 14.

The sisters are among several hundred plaintiffs that have challenged the federal contraception mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans covering contraception, sterilization and some drugs that can cause early abortions.

Employers who fail to comply with the mandate face crippling penalties. In the case of the Little Sisters, the fines could amount to around $2.5 million a year, or about 40 percent of the $6 million the Sisters beg for annually to run their ministry.

Met with a wave of protest, the contraception mandate has undergone a number of revisions. However, the sisters say that it still requires them to violate their beliefs.

 

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Six Sisters Who Serve American Indian Village Feel Blessed

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Sisters who serve feel blessed, and they are a blessing.

From Catholic News Service:

BAPCHULE, Ariz. (CNS) — Sister Pamela Catherine Peasel is a rarity in modern Catholic religious life.

She’s in her 30s — only 1 percent of women religious are. And she’s an elementary school teacher. Fewer than 2,000 women religious — 2 percent of all sisters — teach in U.S. Catholic grade schools.

Yet she said she’s joyfully where she needs to be and is not discouraged by the few number women choosing religious life.

“I wouldn’t necessarily say there’s a drop in vocations as much as there is a drop in the ‘yes’ — you know, the response to the call,” she told Catholic News Service during a recent interview at St. Peter Indian Mission School in Bapchule. “I think God is calling and calling and calling.”

Life’s many choices can be overwhelming to young people. Considering religious life is a challenge for most, she said.

“It’s having to center your heart in prayer, listening for that call and then responding to it. The more we live that joyful attitude, I think that’s a big attraction to our life.”

 

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The Church Without Nuns is Like a Human Heart that’s Cut in Half

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Ben Eekhof

Photo Source Flickr Creative Commons by Ben Eekhof

Legislators can be dismissive of clergy.

In fact, elected officials are, whether they will admit it in public or not, downright cynical about collared folk. Anyone who’s been through a political campaign and had the experience of a member of the clergy lying about them from the pulpit is bound to be changed by the experience.

In my young life, I’ve had clergy of many denominations stand behind the pulpit and call me everything but a nice person. Much of this was back in my anti-religion period when I was pro choice.

They did not confine themselves to the fact that I was pro choice. They claimed variously that I owned whole chains of abortion clinics, was a communist/prostitute/lesbian/whore/slut etc, etc, etc.

Then, when I experienced the love of Christ and converted, when I began to do my best of make up for the harm I’d done by being pro choice, I got attacked by clergy from the other side of the spectrum. They accused me of criminality (which made them lawsuit bait, btw), hating women/hating men/being in favor of rape, and, of course, sexual promiscuity and having had many abortions.

Notice that the lies always included sexual slurs. I think there’s a reason for this, given that I am female and the clergy who attacked me were all male. But I won’t go into it here. Just use your imagination.

Most elected officials end up being attacked by clergy at some point in their careers, and most of the time these attacks are among the most vicious and dishonest they experience. So, when a member of the clergy shows up to lobby for something or other, politicians tend to regard them more as other politicians than men and women of God.

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Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by JohnPickenPhoto https://www.flickr.com/photos/picken/

Not so with nuns. The reaction a group of hardened and cynical legislators has to a nun, particularly a nun wearing a habit, is absolutely startling. The reason why is simple. They believe that the nuns are for real. They don’t see them as another political power player. They see nuns as genuinely holy people.

This leads me to the post that my colleague, Sr Theresa Aletheia Noble, published today. It’s an account of an encounter she had with a young man who had recently been released from prison. She writes,

Filled with the chutzpah that only an Italian background and the Holy Spirit can give you I rap on his window. He turns toward me with an unfriendly glare.

“Hi!” I say brightly, fully employing my “naive nun” routine, “Your mom wanted me to meet you.”

After a few moments, the man hesitantly opens the car door without looking at me.

He stays in his seat.

I wait, knowing I cannot really talk to him if his eyes stay glued to the steering wheel.

I realize that he is just as afraid of me as I am of him.

After an awkward moment he gets out of the car. I notice a tattoo on his neck in bold script: “La vida es sufrir” (life is suffering).

He moves uncomfortably from side to side.

I touch his arm and say, “I’ve been praying for you and I will keep praying for you. Feel free to come by to talk anytime. We have a chapel that you can visit.”

He takes his sunglasses off and squints in the sun, grinning slightly.

I just look at him intently as if to say, “I’m know this invitation seems absurd, but it still holds.”

We look at each other in silence for a few more seconds.

I wave and walk back to the bookstore, his mother close behind me. As I walk, I realize that, despite appearances, there is really not much that separates me from this mother’s son. Whatever he does, whatever he is involved in, it seems like it is only a few steps away. I can almost touch it. In some mysterious way I almost feel that I am him. In that moment something about my vocation clicks.

I am a sister: a sister to Jesus, a sister to gangbangers, a sister to grace, a sister to sin.

Nuns, sisters, especially when they wear clothing that makes it clear who they are, have a vocation that even they may not be aware of. They are a visible sign and a presence of God’s grace in this world.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Official US Navy Page https://www.flickr.com/photos/usnavy/

Would this young man have opened his car door for a priest? Probably. But the encounter would not have been the same. There is a unique and irreplaceable personal power in the feminine that no priest can possess. There is also the public perception of nuns and sisters as people who are authentic in their commitment to Christ, who are, in fact, holy.

I dealt with people like this young man on a daily basis all the 18 years I was in office. I also dealt with frightened people, people outside the law in many ways, and victims of those outside the law.

I can’t remember one time when a frightened or lawbreaking person turned me away when I approached them. There was never a time when they offered me harm. There were many, many times when they came to me in trust and desperation; unafraid to confide in me, trusting absolutely that I would not betray their confidences, that I would help them in whatever way I could.

That is the power of the feminine, even without a habit. It is the power of mother love, even in a government situation.

Nuns are an irreplaceable component in the Church’s structure. Without them, the ministry of the  Church becomes too male to be truly functional. That is because men are not the human race. They are half of what we are as humans. Women and men together are the human race. Anything less is shorn and weak; a quasi-functional subpart of the damaged whole.

Without nuns, the Church is like a human heart, struggling to beat, even though it’s cut in half.

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Stijn De Clercq https://www.flickr.com/photos/stijndc/

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Vatican and Nuns Reach Agreement

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons. http://www.presidencia.gov.ar/

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Pope Francis’ Groupies Surround Him

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Photo Source: Flickr Creative Commons by Edgar Jimenez https://www.flickr.com/photos/chilangoco/

Every public figure has groupies of one sort or another.

Pope Francis looks more startled than I’ve ever seen him when he’s surrounded by his groupies.

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President Obama is an Idiot

What kind of political idiot would pick a fight with the Little Sisters of the Poor?

Our president, that’s who.

The Little Sisters of the Poor had their day in court yesterday. Arrayed against them were the forces of the President of the United States and his Justice Department.

I have no words for this stupidity. Even if the President wins this fight, he loses. It defies political logic.

From the Becket Fund:

Sr. Loraine Marie Maguire, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor:

As Little Sisters of the Poor, we offer the neediest elderly of every race and religion a home where they will be welcomed as Christ, cared for as family and accompanied with dignity until God calls them to Himself.  We have done this for over 175 years because of our faith in God and our vocation as Little Sisters of the Poor.

But now the government demands we choose between our care for the elderly poor and our faith.  We cannot do that and we should not have to.  It is a choice that violates our nation’s historic commitment to ensure that people from diverse faiths can freely follow God’s calling in their lives. But the government forces us to either violate our conscience or take millions of dollars that we raise by begging for the care of the elderly poor and instead pay fines to the IRS.

We are not seeking special privileges.  The government exempts huge corporations, small businesses, and other religious ministries from what they are imposing on us–we are simply asking to carry on our mission to serve the elderly poor as we have always done for 175 years.

We are thankful that the court has heard our case and for the work of the Becket Fund, and we prayerfully await the judges’ decision.

The following statement can be attributed to Mark Rienzi, Senior Counsel of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor:

A year after losing at the Supreme Court, the government’s aggressive pursuit of the Little Sisters of the Poor continues. Untold millions of people have managed to get contraceptives without the involvement of nuns.  The idea that the most powerful government in the world cannot come up with a way to distribute these products without forcing the Little Sisters to participate is ridiculous.

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We’re Gonna Need a Bigger Bus

The chickens are coming flapping home.

 

And it turns out that these chickens walk on two legs and have roosting habits that are nothing more than mob action.

 

Catholic education’s easy bargain of don’t ask, don’t tell concerning dissent against Church teachings and morality has coalesced into “outrage” from parents and students when high schools try to teach and enforce Church teachings. Consider this, this and this.

Bishops, when faced with these angry mobs have turned to the time-honored bureaucratic practice of court-martial-the-private/fire-the-secretary/shoot-the-messenger. Sister Mary Tracy resigned in Seattle. Sister Jane Dominic Laurel took a sabbatical in North Carolina. Father Rocky Hoffman hasn’t been cashiered the way the nuns were, but he has been properly apologized for to the mob.

The response to angry mobs demanding that Catholic schools not teach Catholic teaching has been to wave the white flag and toss the hapless offender who committed the crime of doing what the Church says we should all do under the bus.

It appears that our Catholic schools have become something other than what we thought they were. I keep wondering, are they nothing except a place for well-to-do people to send their kids in order to avoid the public schools? Is there no moral component to Catholic education these days?

And what about these bishops? Are any of them capable of being stand up guys? I don’t have any sympathy with the bishops about this court-martial/fire/shoot and then-cut-and-run routine they’re doing. If the bishop runs away, the people will be lost.

If every Catholic who believes what the Church teaches gets thrown under the bus for being politically incorrect enough to say so in public, we’re going to need a lot bigger bus.

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Maybe the Only Honorable Place for a Catholic to be is Under the Bus

 

Fear God, and you will have no need of being afraid of mortal man. What can anyone do against you by his words and injuries? He rather hurts himself than you, nor can he escape the judgement of God, whoever he be. Keep God before your eyes. Thomas a Kempis

It’s getting crowded under the bus.

I would imagine that it’s also lonely and a bit shattering for the people who are under there.

First, we’ve got Mozilla, throwing their founder and the inventor of JavaScript under that old bus because he made a political donation six years ago in favor of Prop 8, or, to put it more simply, in support of traditional marriage.

Next, we’ve got Sister Jane Dominic Laurel who committed the “crime” of using sociological studies that the gay marriage/gay rights people claim are bogus in a presentation to high school students. Evidently, she said nothing, nothing, that was against Church teaching. The only half-way legitimate criticism that anyone can dig up is that parents  weren’t “informed” of the talk beforehand. Informing the parents beforehand sounds to me like the administrative responsibility of the school, not Sister Jane.

I’ll toss in one more. Father Marcel Guarnizo says he was removed from ministry for refusing communion to a woman who had informed him she was living in a sexual relationship with another woman.

Meanwhile, this priest (who is a Jesuit, so has different superiors, but the principle is the same) is supporting open defiance against Church teachings and writing about it in national Catholic magazines.

I wonder how many others are out there lying under buses for standing for what the Church has taught us we should stand for?

The forced resignation of Brandon Eich from Mozilla is different because the people who abandoned him were not bishops of the Church. I am not in any way abrogating their responsibility for acceding to an egregious and unconscionable attack on the principles of civil liberties which have allowed us to all live together in peace in this country for over 200 years.

I am saying that when a bishop of the Church throws people under the bus for following Church teaching, it … well … it gets too ripe to breathe.

When the zeitgeist turns, it sometimes turns ugly. You can get ugly mobs at your Catholic high schools, demanding the head of a nun. Situations like that are the ones that let true leaders shine. They are also the situations that lead the weak links to tarnish themselves and shame the rest of us.

A bishop who is a good leader must be a great follower. He must be a follower of Christ before anything else. A bishop who follows Jesus and lets the Holy Spirit work through him, will be able to deal with mobs without running away and abandoning his people. But bishops who decide that being a bishop is all about them, will not stand in the tough times.

Such is our fallen state. Jesus Himself told us that the tares would grow up alongside the wheat and not be separated out until Judgement Day. We, meaning you and I, have the task of remaining faithful to Our Lord, even if we have to do it alone, even if our priests and bishops abandon us, even if it makes social martyrs of us.

Make no mistake about it, those who destroy people’s careers and push them to the sidelines for supporting traditional marriage are making martyrs of them. I include bishops who do not stand by them among the martyr-makers.

The suffering of a Brandon Eich who had the corporation he founded and his life’s work stolen from him in what can only be described as an act of malice and spite, must be exquisite. Imagine what it is like to be Sister Jane or Father Guarnizo, who have given their lives to the Church, to have that Church cashier them as a matter of convenience for a bishop who won’t make a stand? Meanwhile those who ignore the Church’s teachings, or even deride them, are riding high.

So long as individual Catholics, ranging from priests, to nuns, to laity, can not rely on their bishops to stand by them when the angry mobs of the zeitgeist come at them for standing for Christ, the only honorable and faithful place for Jesus loving, Jesus following Catholics may very well be under the bus.

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Bishop Jugis Issues Long-Delayed Statement About Sister Jane. Says Nothing. Sister Still Under the Bus.

 

Bishop Peter Jugis has finally issued his long-awaited statement concerning the trashing of Sister Jane Dominic Laurel at a meeting held in one of the Catholic schools in his diocese over a week ago.

I’m not sure why it took the bishop so long to issue this statement, since it says nothing. Here’s the gist of it:

The bishop is “shocked” at the “lack of charity and respect” at the meeting.

The bishop calls for “healing.”

The bishop assures us that Catholic schools will teach the Catholic faith “in its fullness and integrity,” and that the catechism is “accessible to all.”

The bishop stands by his priest.

The bishop leaves Sister Jane under the bus.

In a statement published in the local Charlotte press and then put on the diocesan news page, the author of the petition against Sister Jane announced that the petition was being shut down, adding:

“Thank you to everyone in the CCHS community who supported my petition. I have now removed it from change.org because I feel that its goal has been accomplished. I wanted to call attention to something I felt was wrong so that something similar would not happen in the future. Certainly enough attention has been brought to the issue, and I believe that our school system is working towards a meaningful change. The petition has served its purpose and can now be put to rest.

Indeed.

I appears that the petition was 100% successful. Hard to argue with that. In fact, it looks like the petitioners are running things.

I’m going to have to think about this for a little bit. But I do know that, so far as I’m concerned, everything I said in this post still stands. I am not surprised that Bishop Jugis punted. After a week of silence, any other course of action would have been a surprise.

Maybe we should follow the bishop’s advice and go buy copies of the catechism and be our own bishops to ourselves. Then, if anyone disagrees with us, we can start a petition, form an angry mob and take over.

I am afraid for our Church in these perilous times if this is our leadership.

Bishop Jugis’ statement:

Bishop Jugis’ full statement, issued April 9, follows:

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

The past few weeks have been very difficult for Charlotte Catholic High School. We have all experienced a great deal of pain. During this difficult time I want to express my support and encouragement for all the parents, students, staff and faculty at the high school. We must move forward toward healing with charity, the hallmark of our Christian life.

Different viewpoints regarding Sr. Jane Dominic Laurel’s presentation to students on March 21, 2014, have been discussed in a variety of venues.

At the parent meeting on April 2, 2014, many expressed concern about the lack of advanced communication with parents regarding the subject matter of the assembly. Apologies were made at the meeting for that lack of advanced communication.

The content of the Church’s moral teaching was not raised as a matter of contention at the parent meeting. All of our Catholic schools are committed to hold and teach the Catholic faith in its fullness and with integrity. The Catechism of the Catholic Church contains an explanation of our faith and is accessible to all.

During this difficult time I support the continued work of Fr. Matthew Kauth, the chaplain; Mrs. Angela Montague and Mr. Steve Carpenter, the assistant principals; and Mr. Randy Belk, the dean of students; and all they are doing for our Charlotte Catholic High School students. All of us are indebted to them.

I am shocked to hear the disturbing reports of a lack of charity and respect at the parents’ meeting, and outside the meeting in conversations and in social media. There simply is no room in the Catholic Church for such displays of uncharitableness and disrespect. If we have failed in this regard let us make amends to God and neighbor. Even when we disagree, that disagreement should be expressed respectfully in love.

We ask the Lord Jesus Christ for His mercy and His healing as we approach the celebrations of Palm Sunday, Holy Week and Easter Sunday of the Lord’s Resurrection. Please be assured of our continued dedication to the mission to teach and live the truth of the Catholic faith at our Charlotte Catholic High School.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Peter J. Jugis

Bishop of Charlotte

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CORRECTION: Bishop Jugis Did not Issue Statement in Support of Sister Jane. Will Make Formal Statement Soon.


It turns out that the LifeSiteNews story that I quoted in this post got things wrong.

Bishop Jugis did not make a statement in support of Sister Jane through his spokesperson, David Hains.

David Hains made a comment to that effect in Public Catholic’s com boxes earlier today. I called Mr Hains and he actually did leave the comment. He told me that Bishop Jugis will issue a formal statement concerning what happened to Sister Jane soon.

As soon as that statement comes out, I’ll publish it here.

Here is what David Hains wrote in the combox earlier today.

This post incorrectly spells of the name of Bishop Jugis both in the headline and several times throughout the article. As the Bishop’s spokesman I can assure you that he has not issued a statement on the matter at this time, 4/9/2014. The statement you are quoting came from Father Roger Arnsparger, Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Charlotte. Thank you for your interest in covering this story.

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