UP Catholic 03 04 2016 E Edition Page 6

6 March 4, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC COMMENTARY www.upcatholic.org A few weeks ago, I received a New Years card that read, This will be the best year yet. We Little Sisters of the Poor are fervently praying that 2016 will be remembered as the year we were able to return to our quiet lives at the service of the elderly after a happy resolution to our long legal struggle over the HHS contraceptive mandate. Although we had never before involved ourselves in politics, in March of 2012 we felt com- pelled to publicly voice our op- position to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate. Since then our convictions, based on Catholic teaching, have taken us from the District Court of Colorado to the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court, and finally to the Supreme Court of the United States, where our case will be heard in oral argument on March 23. Along the way we have received hun- dreds of supportive notes, along with more than a few negative comments, including the following, often voiced with a note of disdain: Why dont you stop being so stub- born and just sign the form? This question refers, of course, to the so-called accommoda- tion, which the federal fovernment hoped would silence all the conscientious objec- tions to the Mandate. Form 700, more commonly called the form or the piece of paper, is not what a lot of peo- ple think it is. Contrary to how it is often presented, Form 700 is neither a simple declaration of conscientious objection, nor an opt out regarding the HHS Contraceptive Mandate. Form 700 is a permission slip. Signing it would allow HHS to comman- deer the infrastructure of our health care plan in order to use it to distribute abortifacients and contraceptives to our employees. In other words, signing Form 700 would involve us in formal cooperation with wrongdoing, which is never permissible un- der Catholic doctrine. Not only would such cooper- ation with moral evil constitute frave sin on our part, but it would likely also cause scandal, leading others to sin as well. This is serious stuff, especial- ly for women like us who are devoted to the service of the Church. Through our vow of hospitality we are bound, in the eyes of God and the Church, to upholding the sanctity of human life, from the moment of conception until natural death. Very simply, Form 700 involves the taking of innocent human life. That is why we cannot just sign the form. Throughout the four years of this legal jour- ney I have found cour- age by turning to the freat cloud of witness- es that surrounds us on our earthly pilgrimage. Specifically, I often think of St. Thomas More, and of the Old Testament igure Eleazar. The story of St. Thomas More is well known, thanks in part to the classic movie, A Man for All Seasons. Thomas More was imprisoned for refusing to sign an oath acknowledging Anne Boleyn as King Henry VIIIs legitimate wife and recognizing the kings authority as head of the newly formed Church of England. A year later he was beheaded after famously pro- claiming that he was the kings good servant but God's first. Each time I watch A Man for All Seasons I am inspired by Thomas Mores responses to those who tried to persuade him to just sign the oath. Using the proverbial everyone else is doing it argument, the Duke of Norfolk suggests, Why cant you do as I did and come with us, for fellowship? Refusing to compromise his convictions, Thomas responds, And when we die, and you are sent to heaven for doing your con- science, and I am sent to hell for not doing mine, will you come with me, for fellowship? St. Thomas Mores daughter then pleads with him to consid- er the impact of his actions on the family, suggesting that he take this oath with your lips, but think otherwise in your heart. Again Thomas resists the temptation to fall into dissimulation. Daughter, he responds, what is an oath but words you speak to God? Obvi- ously, St. Thomas More couldnt just sign the form. Thomas Mores integrity is indeed inspiring, but my favor- ite martyr of religious liberty is Eleazar, described in the Second Book of Maccabees as one of the foremost scribes, a man advanced in age and of noble appearance. As he faced torture and death because he refused to defile himself by eating the king's food, friends of the old man pulled him aside and tried to persuade him to fake it by se- cretly eating his own provisions. But Eleazar feared the scandal he might cause the younger men by compromising the prescriptions of their faith, so he died honor- ably, proving himself worthy of his old age and leaving in his death a model of nobility and an unforgettable example of virtue (2 Mac 6:31). I hope that these reflections help to clarify why we cannot just sign the form with regard to the HHS contraceptive mandates so-called accommo- dation. To do so would allow the federal government to commandeer our health plan. It could cause scandal by giving the example that its okay to ignore clearly stated Catholic doctrine. And it would no doubt lead to the taking of innocent human life through the use of abortifacient drugs. Inspired by Eleazar and St. Thomas More, we feel compelled to affirm that we wish to be good citizens and servants our nations elderly, but faithful daughters of the Church first. Sister Constance Veit is the communications director for the Little Sisters of the Poor in the United States. If you know of an incident of the sexual abuse of a minor by anyone in Church service including a member of the clergy, a religious, a lay employee or volunteer, we encourage you to come forward so that we can take action to protect others and help those who have been harmed to find healing. We are open to and respect your complaint; you are important. We want to make this process as safe as possible. Victims Assistance Coordinators bsf bwbjmbcmf up ifmq uiptf xip ibwf cffo ibsnfe uispvhi uif ejggjdvmu boe tpnfujnft qbjogvm qspdftt pg ifbmjoh boe ipqf How to begin the process ... Dbmm pof pg uif Wjdujnt Bttjtubodf Dppsejobupst Tufqifo Mzopuu bu Ejbof Uszbo bu or write: Wjdujnt Bttjtubodf Dppsejobups d p Dbuipmjd Tpdjbm Tfswjdft pg uif VQ Mvejohupo Tu Tvjuf Ftdbobcb NJ Qmfbtf nbsl uif mfuufs Qfstpobm boe Dpogjefoujbm boe joejdbuf jo zpvs mfuufs ipx zpv xjti up cf dpoubdufe cz qipof ps cz mfuufs Xf bmxbzt fodpvsbhf zpv up sfqpsu uif jodjefou up mpdbm djwjm bvuipsjujft The Diocese of Marquette reports all allegations to the appropriate civil authorities. GUEST COLUMN Sister Constance Veit Little Sisters of the Poor: Why we can't 'just sign the form'

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