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EWTN Will Not Bend to an Unjust Mandate: Announces Appeal of Federal Court Decision on HHS Mandate

By Deacon Keith A Fournier
6/20/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

I commend the heroic action of EWTN. We should all commit ourselves to prayer and solidarity with them.

We are extremely disappointed with the decision reached by the court in this case. The opinion issued is clearly inconsistent with the decisions reached in nearly all of the cases decided to date. The fact that the court has dismissed the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom that EWTN has raised is very troubling. As an organization that was founded by Mother Angelica to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, we do not believe that contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and voluntary sterilization should be defined as health care. We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices. We have no other option but to continue our legal challenge of the mandate. We are making an immediate appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta - EWTN

Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network

Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network

IRONDALE, AL (Catholic Online) - On February 1, 2013, the Obama Administration announced an allegedly new modification to its purported "exemption" for religious institutions which had objected to being compelled to offer contraception, sterilization and abortion inducing drugs  to their employees by the Administration - or face the punitive boot of the State.

The original HHS mandate, through which Obamacare will be enforced, required all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans. 

The initial exemption provided for religious employers did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission. In effect, it limited the exemption to activities which took place behind the four walls of the Church or were directly operated by the Church.

The purported accommodation which followed amounted to a shell game, which accomplished nothing. When the Mandate was recorded in the Federal Register, nothing had changed.In other words, the Obama Administration is still attempting to force Catholics, other Christians, other People of Faith and good will, to violate their deeply held religious beliefs and conscience convictions.

This unjust action is in direct contravention of the fundamental human right to religious freedom and the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution.

Anyone who is genuinely concerned over this violation of the First Amendment guarantee of the fundamental right to religious freedom which this matter involves must act. That action must proceed from prayer and be directed toward the defense of religious freedom. No-one should sit idly by as this threat to liberty looms.

We are living in an historic moment in the United States. A serious threat to the very foundations of freedom upon which the American experiment stands is well underway. The vital role of the Church and her influence as a leavening agent and a servant in American culture is seriously threatened.

There is no question that the vital constitutional issues presented by the HHS mandate, the conflicting opinions of both the multiple lower Federal Courts and Appellate Courts, and the importance of this matter, have positioned this issue for a resolution by the United States Supreme Court.

In the myriad of Court cases, arising out of the HHS Mandate there have been many promising signs that those who defend the Free exercise of religion will prevail. However, while the process unfolds, there  was some disappointing news on June 17, 2014.

The Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) received notice that United States District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued a ruling which, in effect, unless overturned on Appeal, would attempt to compel this wonderful network to offer sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plan or face punitive penalties.

Fortunately, the EWTN Global Catholic Network, true to its mission, immediately announced it will Appeal the wrongly decided opinion and offered heroic witness to the kind of courage that this situation calls forth from all of us.

Below is the full statement offered to the Press by the network:

Michael P. Warsaw, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of EWTN Global Catholic Network, in response to today's decision by Judge Callie V.S. Granade of Mobile, Ala. denying EWTN protection from the government mandate that it must provide coverage of contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and sterilization as part of its employee health care coverage: 

Irondale, AL (EWTN) - "We are extremely disappointed with the decision reached by the court in this case. The opinion issued is clearly inconsistent with the decisions reached in nearly all of the cases decided to date. The fact that the court has dismissed the serious issues of conscience and religious freedom that EWTN has raised is very troubling.

As an organization that was founded by Mother Angelica to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Church, we do not believe that contraception, abortion-inducing drugs and voluntary sterilization should be defined as health care. We simply cannot facilitate these immoral practices. We have no other option but to continue our legal challenge of the mandate. We are making an immediate appeal to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta."

This HHS Mandate is a violation of the Free Exercise of Religion which is protected under the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.  "Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" 

That Right to the Free Exercise of religion has been called the "First Freedom" in the American tradition for good reason. It is a foundation for all of our other freedoms. Religious Freedom is also a fundamental human right.

The Birth Certificate of the United States of America,  the Declaration of Independence, affirmed the existence of inalienable rights and self evident truths. Those Rights of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of happiness are endowed by our Creator and not conferred by a Government.

They cannot - they must not- be taken away by Government. Religious Liberty is at the heart of the very understanding of this Right to Liberty in the Western tradition.

The fines and penalties which non-compliance with the HHS mandate brings would have the practical result of closing many of the Church's outreaches, ministries and institutions of care and compassion.  It is repugnant.

This HHS Mandate not only injures the Church and religious institutions it injures American society. It harms the common good.

It is also an unjust law.

The Federal Government of the United States is trying to force us to act against deeply held religious convictions and to violate moral conscience. The claim that this HHS Mandate is an unjust law is rooted in the western understanding of the nature of law itself.
 
It is the firm foundation upon which the American founders grounded their insistence that there are inalienable rights, endowed upon us all by a Creator, which cannot be taken away by any civil government. Positive law must reflect the Natural Law.

Saint Augustine said of an unjust law, "For it seems to me that an unjust law is no law at all." Saint Thomas Aquinas explained, "Human law is law only in virtue of its accordance with right reason: and thus it is manifest that it flows from the eternal law. And in so far as it deviates from right reason it is called an unjust law; in such case it is no law at all, but rather a species of violence."

In doing so, they echoed Cicero, Aristotle and Plato and the entire Natural Law Tradition.

Martin Luther King, Jr., in his 1963 Letter from a Birmingham Jail, gave this explanation of how one determines whether a law is unjust, "How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man-made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law."

Catholics, like other Christians and people of faith, believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ demands a response which goes beyond the walls of our Church buildings. We are our brother and sister's keeper. We do not reach out to people in need because they are Catholic. We reach out to people in need because we are Catholic.   

I commend the heroic action of EWTN. We should all commit ourselves to prayer and solidarity with them, and with all who are standing up to an unjust mandate. 

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