Lansing Update: November 29, 2013

  1. U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Two Cases on HHS Mandate
  2. Pope Francis Releases Evangelii Gaudium, Provides Vision for “Missionary Church”

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Two Cases on HHS Mandate

The U.S. Supreme Court decided Tuesday that it will hear two cases concerning the Health and Human Services (HHS) objectionable services mandate, one from Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and the other from Conestoga Wood Specialties, both family-owned businesses. The HHS mandate requires many employers to cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs in their employee health care plans, even if these services violate the employer’s religious beliefs. Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore, chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, issued the following statement after the announcement:

“The Supreme Court’s review of these cases highlights the importance of this conflict between the federal government and people seeking to practice their faith in daily life. We pray that the Supreme Court will find that the Constitution and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protect everyone’s right to religious freedom. We are encouraged by the advances in the lower federal courts so far in cases involving family-owned companies as well as non-profit religious organizations. On behalf of the Ad Hoc Committee for Religious Liberty, I would like to thank all of the litigants—including those who run diocesan service ministries as well as the lay faithful who run closely-held businesses—for their courageous actions in seeking religious liberty in courts around the country.”

At least 84 lawsuits by over 200 plaintiffs have been filed against the federal government over the HHS mandate. MCC re-filed its lawsuit earlier this month in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan.

Pope Francis Releases Evangelii Gaudium, Provides Vision for “Missionary Church”

Pope Francis issued his first Apostolic Exhortation on Tuesday, titled Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), as a response to the October 2012 Synod of Bishops on the New Evangelization. This document lays out the pope’s vision for a “missionary Church” and touches on a variety of different topics, including poverty and service, abortion, consumerism, human trafficking, marriage, and confession, among other topics. Pope Francis also included a section within the document on the political duty of the laity:

“People in every nation enhance the social dimension of their lives by acting as committed and responsible citizens, not as a mob swayed by the powers that be. Let us not forget that ‘responsible citizenship is a virtue, and participation in political life is a moral obligation.’ Yet becoming a people demands something more. It is an ongoing process in which every new generation must take part: a slow and arduous effort calling for a desire for integration and a willingness to achieve this through the growth of a peaceful and multifaceted culture of encounter.”

To read the full document, click here. [Link no longer available —Ed.]

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