Head of Little Sisters to comment after Denver hearing

The superior of the Little Sisters of the Poor order will comment publically for the first time after a federal court in Denver hears its argument next week against the government’s imposed contraceptive mandate.

Sister Loraine Maguire, LSP

Sister Loraine Maguire, LSP

The order of nuns’ provincial superior, Mother Loraine Marie Maguire, lsp, will attend the oral argument set for 9 a.m. Dec. 8 in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals at the Byron White courthouse in downtown Denver. The hearing is open to the public.

The nun, who oversees the order’s 28 nursing homes for the elderly poor across the U.S., is expected to comment immediately following the hearing with attorney Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty.

Mother Maguire’s comments follow more than a year of court battles the Becket Fund has fought for the Little Sisters who object to the federal Health and Human Services mandate because it conflicts with their religious beliefs. The mandate is a part of the Affordable Care Act that forces employee health plans to provide free coverage of contraceptives including sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs and devices.

The Little Sisters were granted a temporary injunction, which shields them from the mandate, after filing an appeal in February in Denver federal court.

“The sisters just want to be able to do what they have been doing and offer generous health benefits that don’t include drugs the sisters can’t help provide,” said attorney Adele Keim of the Becket Fund.

The Little Sisters are one of 400 ministries in the class-action lawsuit against the mandate.

The Becket Fund has released comments on behalf of the Little Sisters, including a recent response to government officials’ latest adjustment to mandate requirements.

In a letter dated Oct. 27, the Little Sisters commented that the mandate “threatens our religious ministry in ways that are unfair, illegal and entirely unnecessary.”

“For the reasons set forth in our court papers, the government’s efforts to coerce us in this manner are illegal,” the letter reads. “They are also entirely unnecessary. While we do not share the government’s goals of promoting and distributing these products, we are confident that the government can devise other ways to achieve its goals without taking over our health plans.”

The letter was signed by Mother Maguire.

For more information about the Becket Fund and the Little Sisters case, visit www.becketfund.org/hhsinformationcentral.

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.


Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash