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We Must Obey God Rather Than Men: Fr Frank Pavone In Federal Court over Obamacare's Unjust Mandate

By Deacon Keith Fournier
April 11th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

It is not accidental that on the day when the first reading at Holy Mass contained the courageous affirmation of Peter and the Apostles "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5) - and we commemorated the heroism of a Polish Bishop and Martyr named Stanislaus who refused to compromise when face with an unjust authority in his own age - a modern day apostle for the Gospel of Life goes to Federal Court over the unjust and unconstitutional HHS mandate. 

BROOKLYN, NY (Catholic Online) - It is not accidental that on the day when the first reading at Holy Mass contained the courageous affirmation of Peter and the Apostles "We must obey God rather than men" (Acts 5) - and we commemorated the heroism of a Polish Bishop and Martyr named Stanislaus who refused to compromise when face with an unjust authority in his own age - a modern day apostle for the Gospel of Life goes to Federal Court over the unjust and unconstitutional HHS mandate. 

When the official history of the great human rights movement of our age is written - and make no mistake it will be written - there will be several women, men, associations, movements and organizations holding a deserved place of honor. Right at the top of that list will be an indefatigable Catholic Priest and Champion for Life named Fr Frank Pavone and the vital association which the Lord of Life called him to found, Priests for Life.

The Organization which he founded and leads, Priests for Life, is in Federal Court again today standing up to the Obama Administration which seeks to compel faithful Catholics and other Christians to bend the knee to an unjust edict. We will not, we cannot, we must not, comply. No State can determine what is right or wrong. No Civil authority can compel us to disobey God.

The HHS mandate through which the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will soon be enforced requires all employers, including Catholic and other religious employers, to cover sterilization, abortion inducing drugs, and contraception in their health care plans. 

The alleged exemption promised for religious employers never materialized. The scraps from the table which the administration offered did not cover hospitals, universities, soup kitchens, outreaches to the poor and many other vital expressions of our Catholic faith and mission.

The period allowing public comments to this unjust policy has now ended. Kathleen Sebelius, the Secretary of the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has announced that it will be in full force and effect on August 1, 2013.

While negotiations with the Administration are still underway, we must pray for their success. However, the inspiring leadership of Fr Frank points us all toward a future where we may soon be called to join the chorus throughout history affirming - We Must Obey God Rather Than Men!

My friend, a hero of our age, Fr Frank Pavone, sent me this Press Release last night:

*****
Priests for Life Lawsuit in Court Tomorrow

The Priests for Life lawsuit against the HHS mandate -- the fourth such lawsuit to be introduced (in February, 2012) in what are now dozens of cases -- takes another step forward in federal court in Brooklyn, NY tomorrow as attorneys will argue in Court why the Obama Administration has no basis for dismissing the suit.

The government is using the same kind of arguments it has used in other lawsuits against the mandate brought by religious groups, namely, that because they have a religious exemption and in the light of promised changes in the mandate, these groups really aren't being harmed, have nothing to worry about, and therefore no basis to sue the government.

The case of Priests for Life is different from that of the other religious entities, however. We were not covered by the "religious exemption," and therefore the mandate was to be effective for us this past January 1.

On December 20th, attorneys Robert Muise and David Yerushalmi presented oral argument requesting that the court immediately halt the enforcement of the mandate.  The court strongly urged the government to enter into a stipulation to that effect.  If an agreement was not reached by December 21st, the court scheduled a hearing for December 26th, at which time it was evident that the court would order an injunction against the mandate. The very next day, the federal government entered into a stipulation that it would not enforce the HHS mandate against Priests for Life for the year 2013.

But January 1, 2014 is fast approaching.

Tomorrow (April 11), therefore, our attorneys will argue that because the mandate is the law of the land right now, and because no actual or proposed changes from the government resolve our objections to the mandate, the Court should therefore move forward and judge this case on its merits (recognizing its "standing" and "ripeness") and protect our rights by issuing an injunction against the mandate.

The Priests for Life lawsuit, the fourth of its kind, was actually the first to be filed after the Obama Administration announced, in February of 2012, its "accommodations" to those who object to the mandate. We realized from the outset that these were not accommodations at all, and neither were those promised more recently. No matter how one looks at it, we are still being forced to be the gateway to employees having access to products and services that we teach are immoral.

Just this past Monday, Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, who chairs the U.S. Bishops' Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, expressed "deep gratitude" and "solidarity and appreciation" for all those who have challenged the mandate in court. He said, "Their goal is nothing less than securing the freedom of the Church to continue to obey the Lord's command-and, in turn, to serve the common good-by providing charitable ministries in health care, education, and service to the poor, all without compromising Catholic beliefs.We continue to pray for the success of all of these lawsuits."

Priests for Life is grateful to our two lead attorneys on this case, Robert Muise (American Freedom Law Center) and Charles S. LiMandri, and their respective teams, for their expert and dedicated work on this lawsuit.

Let's move forward to victory.

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