UP Catholic 05 27 2016 E Edition Page 4

4 May 27, 2016 THE U.P. CATHOLIC WORLD NEWS www.upcatholic.org Little Sisters case sent back to lower court Washington D.C. (CNA) - In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court sent the Little Sisters of the Poor HHS mandate case back to the lower courts on May 16, in light of new developments in the case. We are very encouraged by the Courts decision, which is an important win for the Little Sisters. The Court has recognized that the government changed its position, said Mark Rienzi, senior counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty and lead attorney for the Little Sisters of the Poor. It is crucial that the Justices unanimously or- dered the government not to impose these fines and indicated that the government doesnt need any notice to figure out what should now be obvious the Little Sisters respectfully ob- ject, he continued. Religious charities including the Little Sisters of the Poor had sued the federal gov- ernment saying that they were being coerced, under threat of heavy fines, to violate their consciences. They said that despite revisions, the Obama administrations federal contracep- tion mandate requires them to cooperate in actions they believe to be immoral. The mandate began as part of the Affordable Care Act, which required coverage for pre- ventative care in employee health plans. The Department of Health and Human Services, in its regulations released after the law was passed, interpreted this to require employer coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and drugs that can cause abortions. Churches and their immediate affiliates, like schools and parish groups, were exempt from the mandate but religious non-profits, chari- ties, and universities were not. A total of more than 300 plaintiffs have sued to challenge the mandate. In the case currently before the court, Zubik v. Burwell, the Little Sisters are joined by other plaintiffs including the Archdiocese of Washington, Bishop David Zubik of Pittsburgh, the pro-life group Priests for Life, and several Christian colleges and universities. The Supreme Court, in a rare move in the middle of a case, had ordered both parties to come up with alternative solutions, if possible, of guaranteeing both contraceptive coverage for employees and religious freedom protec- tions for the non-profits. The Little Sisters and other plaintiffs, in their brief, outlined an acceptable alternative: when setting up their health plan with their insurer, they would express their wish for a health plan without coverage for the contra- ceptives, sterilizations and abortion-causing drugs. The insurer would take note and offer employees cost-free contraception coverage on the side and outside the health plan. For their part, the Government has con- irmed that the challenged procedures 'for em- ployers with insured plans could be modified to operate in the manner posited in the Courts order while still ensuring that the affected women receive contraceptive coverage seam- lessly, together with the rest of their health coverage, the statement read. Because of the new developments in the case, the court then sent the group cases back to their respective federal courts the Third, Fifth, Tenth, and D.C. Circuit Courts of Ap- peals. Given the gravity of the dispute and the substantial clarification and refinement in the positions of the parties, the parties on remand should be afforded an opportunity to arrive at an approach going forward that accommo- dates petitioners religious exercise while at the same time ensuring that women covered by petitioners health plans receive full and equal health coverage, including contraceptive coverage, the court stated. The Supreme Court did not say if the gov- ernments mandate and accommodation violated the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. Under that federal law passed in 1993, if the government action substantially burdens a persons free exercise of religion, the govern- ment must establish that it has a compelling interest for the action and that it is using the least-restrictive means of furthering that interest. In particular, the Court does not decide whether petitioners religious exercise has been substantially burdened, whether the Gov- ernment has a compelling interest, or whether the current regulations are the least restrictive means of serving that interest, the court stat- ed, leaving that decision for the lower courts. USCCB Chairmen Respond to new Guidance Letter on Title IX Application WASHINGTONTwo committee chairmen of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) issued the fol- lowing statement in response to guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Depart- ment of Education entitled Dear Colleague Letter on Transgender Students: The Catholic Church consistently affirms the inherent dignity of each and every human person and advocates for the wellbeing of all people, particularly the most vulnerable. Especially at a young age and in schools, it is important that our children understand the depth of Gods love for them and their intrinsic worth and beauty. Children should always be and feel safe and secure and know they are loved. The guidance issued May 13 by the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education that treats a students gender identity as the students sex is deeply disturbing. The guidance fails to address a num- ber of important concerns and contradicts a basic understanding of human formation so well expressed by Pope Francis: that the young need to be helped to accept their own body as it was created (Amoris Laetitia [AL], no. 285). Children, youth, and parents in these difficult situa- tions deserve compassion, sensitivity, and respect. All of these can be expressed without infringing on legitimate concerns about privacy and security on the part of the other young students and parents. The federal regulato- ry guidance issued on May 13 does not even attempt to achieve this balance. It unfortunately does not respect the ongoing political discussion at the state and local lev- els and in Congress, or the broader cultural discussion, about how best to address these sensitive issues. Rather, the guidance short-circuits those discussions entirely. As Pope Francis has recently indicated, 'biological sex and the socio-cultural role of sex (gender) can be distin- fuished but not separated (AL, no. 56, emphasis add- ed). We pray that the government make room for more just and compassionate approaches and policies in this sensitive area, in order to serve the good of all students and parents, as well as the common good. We will be studying the guidance further to understand the full extent of its implications. The statement was issued by Bishop Richard Malone of Buffalo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on La- ity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth; and Archbishop George Lucas, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Catholic Education. CNA/EWTN NEWS Pope Francis speaks with the Little Sisters of the Poor about the care of the elderly during his visit to the United States last fall.

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