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Archive of May 7, 2013

New confessional at Conn. parish boosts sacrament

Hartford, Conn., May 7, 2013 (CNA) - A Connecticut priest says a new confessional recently installed at his parish stands as a visible sign of God's grace, and has increased churchgoers' participation in the sacrament.

“A confessional is a sign of the sacrament, and I wanted to have such a sign in the church,” said Father Janusz Kukulka, pastor of St. Mary the Immaculate Conception in Derby.

In a May 2 interview, Fr. Kukulka told CNA that more parishioners have now been seeking out the sacrament of reconciliation, “especially people who have not been to confession in many years.”

Although new to St. Mary's as of Feb. 16 this year, the oak confessional has a rich history – it was built in 1878 and until recently was located in an Iowa church.

That parish in the Dubuque archdiocese was closed as the state's population has shifted from farming communities to urban environments. The church was sold to a Lutheran community, which in turn sold the confessional to the Connecticut parish for $1,100.

St. Mary's was reconstructed in the 1970s, which included its two confessionals and communion rail being ripped out, as well as the altar being moved. The original confessionals were replaced by an unmarked “reconciliation room.”

The parish, which is in the Hartford archdiocese, now has a rejuvenation committee, one of the tasks of which was finding a traditional confessional for the church.

The committee began their search by looking online, according to The Catholic Transcript, Hartford's Catholic paper. A newly built confessional they found was prohibitively expensive, but they soon discovered the oak confessional from Iowa on eBay.

Lisa Knott, a parish member, donated the money for the confessional and dedicated it to the memory of her parents. Another parishioner, Timothy Conlon, traveled to Iowa to haul the confessional back to Connecticut.

It bears a plaque in memory of Knott's parents, Pasquale and Geraldina Scarpa, as a reminder to penitents to pray for them.

Fr. Kukulka told The Catholic Transcript that “the chancery is amazed that we made this progress in a very short time, so the archbishop twice complimented us.”

He thanked the Knotts and Conlon, whom he credited with the new development. “Physically they brought it and they paid. I am just here for spiritual input.”

The confessional was re-assembled in St. Mary's, and when it was finally used on Feb. 16, Lent had started three days earlier.

The Hartford archdiocese offered extended hours for confession at all its parishes, so the new confessional was put to good use.

Fr. Kukulka offers confessions every week, and is always receptive when he is asked to hear a confession.

“If someone asks, I go every time. I never say no,” he told CNA.

Parishioner Patrick Knott, Lisa's husband, said that even in his limited experience he's seen a “significant increase” in confessions at St. Mary's. The separation and privacy afforded by the confessional grill allows you to feel more “comfortable,” compared to a “reconciliation room,” he noted.

For Fr. Kukulka, it was important to promote more frequent reception of confession at his parish. The priest is from Poland, where he noted that the inculturation of Catholicism has a strong link between the sacraments of confession and communion.

“For me, the practice of going to Communion without confession is strange,” he said.

He considers the antique confessional to be less important than a spiritual emphasis on God's mercy as it is encountered in confessions.

In sacramental confession, the penitent is “receiving forgiveness of sins, and graces to be a better person for the future,” noted Fr. Kukulka.

“With God's graces first of all you receive the forgiveness of sins...and that's the point of my message as a priest.”

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Romanian Catholic bishop glad to serve Canadian faithful

Columbus, Ohio, May 7, 2013 (CNA) - The bishop of the Eparchy of Saint George in Canton is thankful that the area now extends across both Canada and the U.S., enabling him to serve all Romanian Catholics in North America.

On April 23, Pope Francis extended the eparchy's jurisdiction, which was throughout the U.S., to cover all of Canada as well. The eparchy – which is equivalent to a diocese in the Latin Church – had already, in 2010, been given jurisdiction over the two existing Romanian Catholic parishes in Canada.

“That's where the problem lay, it was kind of unclear what we'd be able to do throughout the rest of the country, in terms of establishing new missions, or taking care of dispensations, permissions and marriages,” Bishop John Michael Botean, told CNA May 2.

“So this is a clarification we needed, and which I'm glad the Holy Father granted.”

The Romanian Catholic Church is a Byzantine-rite Church in full communion with Rome and which is headed by the Major Archbishop of Fagaras and Alba Iulia, Cardinal Lucian Muresan.

Bishop Botean explained that the eparchy's extension is important because of the increasing Romanian presence in Canada.
 
“There is more immigration of Romanians to Canada than to the U.S., and we've been approached by Canadians in a couple different areas...to explore the possibility of establishing missions.”

The eparchy has received requests for missions by Romanian communities in British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario. But without jurisdiction throughout Canada, it had been unable to fulfill these requests.

“I hope we'll be able to look into that more seriously at this point now,” Bishop Botean said.

“The fact that our mission now involves our neighbors in Canada, people who actually...already have relationships across the border, that just extends our family in a way that can't but be beneficial to us.”

The eparchy faces changes in the U.S., because its 21 parishes and missions are located primarily where the economy was doing well at the beginning of the 20th century, where Romanian emigrants settled, which  is “not necessarily the case anymore in any of those places.”

Parishes of the eparchy are now either focusing on “mission” and reaching out to their neighborhoods, Bishop Botean said, or they “find themselves in trouble, as Romanian families move away from the area...mission becomes important.”

The eparchy's extension had been requested by the Romanian Catholic synod and Cardinal Muresan, who forwarded the petition to the Congregation for the Oriental Churches.

The Romanian Catholic Church is in the Byzantine-tradition, and so uses the Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom, like the Melkite, Ruthenian, and Ukrainian Catholic Churches. It is constituted by five eparchies in Romania as well as the Eparchy of St. George in Canton.

The parishes of St. George's eparchy use Romanian or English, depending on whether their communities are long-established or composed primarily of recent immigrants.

“But usually we try to hang onto at least a little Romanian here and there in the liturgy to remain close to our roots, even where we use English,” Bishop Botean explained.

The Romanian Catholic Church was established in 1698, when an Orthodox bishop in Romania entered union with the Bishop of Rome. This decision was confirmed by a synod in 1700, and was done to protect the civil rights of Romanians, who were being oppressed by the ruling Hapsburg Empire.

Bishop Botean explained that the union was also done “as a mean of preserving orthodoxy,” as the ideas of Protestant theologian John Calvin were at the time spreading through the Orthodox churches in Romania.

In 1948, Romania's communist government forcibly dissolved the Romanian Catholic Church, and its properties were either seized by the state or given to the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Church existed underground until the fall of communism in Romania in 1989.

The Romanian Catholic Church is “a way of living the diversity that's inherent in the Church by way of God's gift, not by human decision,” Bishop Botean said.

“The fact that the Church has taken shape in different ways...shows that the Gospel wants to take flesh where it is.”

“We have a special role to play not only in manifesting the diversity of the Church, but also in being the bridge Church we're called to be, between Catholicism and Orthodoxy,” he added, “but in a way that's consistent with the Second Vatican Council and by means of a recovery of our own tradition, by being truly and authentically self-governing...and still living the mission that was entrusted to the Church by Christ, as a part of the Catholic Church.”

The mission of the Romanian Catholic Church is “not just a matter of trying to take care of our own folks,” he said, but is “a matter of preaching the Gospel, loving your neighbor, and giving witness to Jesus Christ.”

“And in the West that means to the un-evangelized, de-evangelized, and under-evangelized folks we live in the middle of. Our way of expressing and living Catholicism is a way that speaks to people even in the post-modern age. Not everyone certainly, but to a lot of folks.”

St. George's eparchy also includes two monasteries, one of men and one of women. These communities live an authentic Byzantine monastic lifestyle, accessible to the faithful but not engaged in pastoral ministry or teaching. People seek out spiritual fathers or mothers at the monasteries, “who become the spiritual sources for the people. People go to the monasteries for confession, spiritual advice, spiritual direction, that's pretty much their main charism.”

Bishop Botean concluded by saying he is “certainly grateful” for the extension of the eparchy.

“It's true it's more work, but we have...to become the spiritual force that God would want us to be, and that's my mission in this diocese, to transfer that sense of mission to our people as much as I can.”

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Hollywood actress-turned-nun details vocation in new book

Hartford, Conn., May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Mother Dolores Hart, the woman who left her movie career to become a Benedictine nun, has released a new biography explaining her shift from a rising star in Hollywood to life as a cloistered religious.

“I have used the analogy of falling from a 20 story building because that’s what I felt like the first night after I entered,” Mother Hart told CNA May 6.

When she was approached by her life-long friend Richard DeNeut some 10 years ago about the possibility of writing a memoir, she feared that she would have neither the time nor the memory to write all “the wonderful things that happened” into a book.

However, DeNeut insisted saying that her memoir would be “very good” and “very important” for others to read.

The friends began speaking for about an hour each day over the phone and Skype to get her story on paper and eventually they had enough material for a book.

However, they ran into difficulty when many publishers wanted to start the book with her role in “Loving You,” the 1957 film where she gave Elvis Presley his first on-screen kiss – which would have left out details of her turbulent upbringing and childhood conversion to Catholicism.

Eventually the pair turned to Ignatius Press, the California-based Catholic publisher because they “promised they would stay honest” to her story, Mother Hart said.

“We didn’t do it because they were a Catholic publisher,” she said, “mainly because they made that promise.”

When she entered the monastery in 1963, the 24 year-old actress shocked her friends, family and the rest of Hollywood. The then-actress was engaged to be married, had a multi-film contract with Metro Goldwyn Mayer and was pulling in $5,000 a week.

However, her heart kept going back to the Abbey of Regina Laudis, a Benedictine monastery in Connecticut founded by French nuns in 1947 where she visited for retreat during her time on Broadway in her Tony-nominated performance in The Pleasure of His Company.

“In my mind’s eye my desire to enter the monastery was to find God,” she explained. “Well, God wasn’t waiting for me on the other side of the door – in certain ways, he was, but not in the way I had imagined.”

One evening after an engagement party, her fiancé, Don Robinson, sensed that her heart was with “something or someone else” and told her she needed to settle that before they were married.

“It was something that had been gnawing on me, the thought that maybe this was something I should do,” she said.

Hart packed her bags and left Hollywood for Connecticut where she met with the Mother Abbess to seriously discern the possibility of her vocation to the religious life.

“It was very clear before I left that what I had to do was enter the monastery because that’s where my heart was,” she said.

During that time, another Catholic actress, June Haver, had made headlines when she become a postulant with the Sisters of Charity in Kansas, only to leave after just a few months.

In order to avoid the publicity, Hart was instructed to keep her decision quiet until she actually entered.

“It was a horrible time,” she said. “I couldn’t accept any contracts, I couldn’t accept to do anything, I couldn’t tell anyone anything.”

Although she had made the decision to enter she continued to wonder, “Is this really going to be the answer?”

“I left the world I knew in order to reenter it on a more profound level,” she writes in the book’s preface.

“Many people don't understand the difference between a vocation and your own idea about something. A vocation is a call – one you don't necessarily want. The only thing I ever wanted to be was an actress. But I was called by God.”

Some 50 years later, Mother Hart is now the prioress of the Abbey and looking back, she realizes how she’s been able to use the gifts that God gave her which made her a successful actress, namely listening.

“I never would have thought that except when I really got into (acting) and found out that a good actor or a good actress really has to listen first of all to the character that you have to portray,” she said.

“When I did finally come to Regina Laudis, I was touched by the fact that the first words of the Holy Rule of St. Benedict read, ‘Listen my daughter, my son, to the voice of your Master with the ear of your heart.’”

Mother Hart explained that “religious life” as some may assume, “is not leaving your gifts at the door and coming inside to find God in some mystique.”

Rather, she said, “A community brings its gifts with you and serves one another with what you have.”

“The Ear of the Heart: An Actress’ Journey from Hollywood to Holy Vows,” by Mother Dolores Hart and Richard DeNeut releases May 7 from Ignatius Press.

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Costa Rica campaign highlights dignity of babies with birth defects

San José, Costa Rica, May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - A pro-life association in Costa Rica has launched a campaign to raise awareness about the plight of babies with anencephaly, who are often used to justify calls for the legalization of abortion in Latin America.

Babies born with the condition are missing all or part of their brain and usually die within a few hours, although some babies live longer. One baby with the condition born in Brazil lived for 16 months. 

In a statement sent to CNA, the pro-life group Por la Vida underscored the importance of defending the right to life of babies with anencephaly, one year after Brazil legalized abortion for babies with the condition. A baby with the same condition is currently making headlines in El Salvador, as a similar debate rages in the country.

The awareness campaign in Costa Rica includes testimonies from families who have had babies with anencephaly.

“Antonella, Gabriel, Liam, Isabella are only a few of the names of these babies who lived for a short time outside their mothers’ wombs but who live on in the hearts of the parents,” the campaign explained.

It added that these parents “wish to tell their stories to show that preserving the life of their child was worth it and that the best decision a mother in this situation can make is to allow her child to live and to die in the arms of his or her loved ones.”

The testimonies posted on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, “have moved the hearts of those who have followed this campaign, which has already received more than 10,000 visits on its first day,” the association said.

One woman explained that she did not see her baby as deformed. Rather, she explained, “(t)o me he is and always will be my baby, the fruit of my womb, my gift from God, my first and only love.”

Por la Vida noted that in Costa Rica, abortion proponents have used the case of a woman called “Aurora” to argue for the legalization of abortion, alleging that her unborn child “suffered from deformations incompatible with life.”

“Aurora’s” case is currently being studied by the Constitutional Court of Costa Rica.

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Good Christians don't whine about suffering, Pope says

Vatican City, May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Reflecting on how St. Paul endured pain for Christ, Pope Francis said that good Christians do not complain about their trials but endure them with patient silence because their hearts are at peace.

A Christian “who constantly complains, fails to be a good Christian: they become Mr. or Mrs. Whiner, no? Because they always complain about everything, right?” the Pope remarked in his May 7 homily at St. Martha’s residence.

The Christian response to suffering is “silence in endurance, silence in patience,” he stated.

During his Passion, the Pope noted, Jesus “did not speak much, only two or three necessary words ... But it is not a sad silence: the silence of bearing the Cross is not a sad silence. It is painful, often very painful, but it is not sad. The heart is at peace.”

The pontiff based his homily on the first reading of the day, Acts 16, in which St. Paul and Silas were persecuted and thrown in jail for proclaiming the Gospel.

But they “were joyful because they followed Jesus in on the path of his passion. A path the Lord travelled with patience,” he added. “This does not mean being sad. No, no, it's another thing!” Pope Francis taught.

“This means bearing, carrying the weight of difficulties, the weight of contradictions, the weight of tribulations on our shoulders. This Christian attitude of bearing up, of being patient.”

“This is a process – allow me this word ‘process’ – a process of Christian maturity, through the path of patience. A process that takes some time, that you cannot undergo from one day to another. It evolves over a lifetime, arriving at Christian maturity. It is like a good wine.” The Pope observed that many martyrs were joyful as they approach their final moments, such as the martyrs of Nagasaki who helped each other, as they “waited for the moment of death.”

Some of those men and women went to their martyrdom as if they were going to a “wedding party,” he said. This attitude of endurance, he added, is a Christian’s normal attitude, but it is not masochistic. It is an attitude that leads them “along the path of Jesus.”

Returning to the example of Paul and Silas, Pope Francis noted that in spite of being in prison, they were praying in peace. “They were in pain, because then it is said that the jailer washed their wounds while they were in prison – they had wounds – but endured in peace. This journey of endurance helps us deepen Christian peace, it makes us stronger in Jesus.” The Holy Father finished his remarks by repeating that a Christian is called to endure suffering just like Jesus, “without complaint, endure in peace.”

This patience “renews our youth and makes us younger,” he said, mentioning how he has seen this among elderly people in hospice care “who have endured so much in life.”

“Look at their eyes, (they have) young eyes, they have a youthful spirit and a renewed youth,” he underscored.

“And the Lord invites us to this: to be rejuvenated Easter people on a journey of love, patience, enduring our tribulations and also - I would say – putting up with one another. We must also do this with charity and love, because if I have to put up with you, I'm sure you will put up with me and in this way we will move forward on our journey on the path of Jesus.”

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Vatican doctrine office confused by cardinal's LCWR comments

Vatican City, May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - The Vatican’s press office has released a statement saying the media misreported a cardinal’s remarks about the ongoing reform of a group of American sisters, but an inside source at the doctrine department says it is confused because the matter is their "exclusive responsibility."

An official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith told CNA May 7 on the condition of anonymity that it is “perplexed” by Cardinal João Braz de Aviz saying it did not discuss with him their decision to require an American group of religious superiors to undergo reform.

“We are perplexed because the matter is the exclusive responsibility of the congregation and we aren’t stepping on anyone’s toes,” the source said early on Tuesday afternoon.

The decision was the outcome of a four-year assessment that found the Leadership Conference of Women Religious promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith” and dissent from Church teaching on topics including the sacramental male priesthood and homosexuality.

On the afternoon of May 7, the Vatican press office released an official statement that said “media comments” on Cardinal Braz de Aviz’s May 5 remarks “suggested a divergence” between the two offices and that “such interpretation of the Cardinal’s remarks were not justified.”

The prefects of these two congregations “work closely together according to their specific responsibilities and collaborated throughout the process of the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR,” the statement underscored.

The doctrine congregation’s head, Archbishop Gerhard Müller, and Cardinal Braz de Aviz also met on May 6 and “reaffirmed their common commitment to the renewal of Religious Life, and particularly to the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR and the program of reform it requires,” it added.

Cardinal Braz de Aviz, who heads the Vatican’s Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, made his claims on Sunday during the general assembly of the International Union of Superior Generals in Rome, one year after the doctrine congregation’s reform mandate was issued.

The cardinal also revealed that Pope Francis allowed him to choose his secretary and said this demonstrated the Pope’s trust in him.

Commenting on his statements about the doctrine congregation, the inside source said, “One does not do this. I don’t know how his comments benefit him or the Church, and he makes it seem that injustice is being done.”

“This was a very slow and objective process and our members are extremely professional theologians and philosophers who consult weekly with the Pope,” he explained.

But according to the source, “there is a lot of pride and one always wants to believe they are right.”

“People are very misinformed theologically, philosophically and academically” about the positions taken by the LCWR, he added.

The doctrine official believes that “the most important part has already happened, which is that Catholics have been informed that these women are wrong.”

He explained that the LCWR follow the “gender ideology” and “have developed an exacerbated ultra feminism which makes them reject all type of male authority.”

“They have been fired in many parishes because they teach things that provoke great discomfort within communities,” he said.

Referring to a April 15, 2013 statement from the doctrine office in which Pope Francis confirmed the finding that the sisters’ conference must be reformed, the source underscored that “this is not an issue about a Pope being spoiled.”

Attempts by CNA to obtain comment from the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life were referred to Cardinal Braz de Aviz who was unavailable.


Corrected on May 9, 2013 at 11:11 a.m. Rome time. Due to a reporting error, the original story attributed the official May 7 statement to the CDF instead of the Vatican press office.
 

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Conscience objections urged in face of Colombian gay unions

Bogotá, Colombia, May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Officials from the Bishops’ Conference of Colombia have urged Catholics to adhere to Church teaching in the face of potential same-sex unions and a movement towards a secular nation.

Father Pedro Mercado, adjunct secretary of the conference, warned that Catholic notaries will not be able to witness same-sex unions, as required by a Colombian Constitutional Court ruling, without committing “a grave act against God.” He demanded that the State recognize a right to conscientious objection.

In the absence of congressional legislation enacted by late June, the Colombian Constitutional Court has ruled that gay couples will be able to go before a public notary in order to “constitute a family.” 

In statements to the Colombian daily El Tiempo, Father Mercado warned that witnessing same-sex unions “would be considered a grave act against God and against society” by public notaries.

“Catholic notaries cannot formalize same-sex unions as proposed. Such a consideration is absolutely irreconcilable with an upright Christian conscience,” he said.

He also insisted that the Colombian government recognize the right to conscientious objection in this case, saying that failing to do so “would gravely violate the rights of notaries, not only those who are Catholic but those of other religions as well, by forcing them to carry out an act that for them could be considered morally illicit.”

If the State were not to recognize this right for notaries, Father Mercado warned, “they would have no other option but to ignore the Court’s instructions.”

For his part, Bishop Jose Daniel Falla Robles, general secretary of the Colombian Bishops’ Conference, said in a May 2 article that Christians “should always stand up for our right to conscientious objection whenever necessary in order to show that we obey God before men.”

“In this way we will show with our own lives that when it comes to the Word of God, there is no middle ground,” Bishop Falla Robles said.

“Either we refuse to follow our empty and superficial thoughts, as well as our lower passions, so that the presence and greatness of God may shine in us,” he remarked, “or we refuse to follow God and his Word, and thus remain at the mercy of our way of seeing life, our disordered passions, and thus see ourselves deprived of the blessings that only He can give us.”

If the actions of Christians “do not reflect the will of our God, we cannot say that we love Him. We are liars,” he added.
 
The bishop also said it is unfortunate that some lawmakers and members of minority groups want to create a secularized State “that takes no account of God, much less of his Word.”  

They want a kind of permissiveness that rejects the values and principles that give society stability, granting legal protection to every whim, tendency and special interest, “thus making room for moral relativism and, through it, undermining the foundations of society,” he said.

Bishop Falla Robles explained that those who believe and love God “should remember that today more than ever, unfortunately not everything that is legal (that is, what is protected by law) is at the same time moral (in other words, in accord with God’s will.”

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Massachusetts bishop apologizes for drunk driving arrest

Worcester, Mass., May 7, 2013 (CNA/EWTN News) - Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Mass. pled not guilty to drunk driving-related charges in Rhode Island after apologizing to his diocese for what he called his “terrible error in judgment.”

“There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action,” the bishop said in a May 6 statement on the Worcester diocese website.

“More importantly, I ask forgiveness from the good people whom I serve, as well as my family and friends, in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Providence.”

The 61-year-old bishop’s apology said he had erred by driving after consuming alcohol on May 4.

He was arrested in Narragansett on Saturday after his car allegedly collided with another vehicle and he drove from the scene. The other driver followed the bishop and called police, the Associated Press reports.

The arresting officer said the bishop was not sure whether he had hit another vehicle. The bishop allegedly failed three different sobriety tests and was cited for refusing to take a chemical breath test, the Boston Globe says. The bishop told the officer he had had two drinks at dinner three and a half hours before his arrest.

His lawyer entered a plea of not guilty to charges of driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. The Rhode Island court let him go free on $1,000 bail. He is scheduled to return to court on May 28.

The other driver told police he would undergo examination at a local hospital to be treated for pain. Bishop McManus is a Providence, R.I. native and has a vacation home in the Narragansett area.

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HHS appeal withdrawal gives temporary relief to Bible publisher

Washington D.C., May 7, 2013 (CNA) - An Illinois-based Bible publisher has secured temporary relief from the federal contraception mandate after the Obama administration asked an appellate court to dismiss its challenge to a preliminary injunction.

Matthew Bowman, senior legal counsel at Alliance Defending Freedom, which is defending the publisher, told CNA that the move indicates “that the government knows it is taking an extremist view against religious freedom, and it is afraid to defend that in court.”

As a result of the court order, the Bible publisher will remain protected by a temporary injunction, and will therefore be able to conduct its business free from the demands of the federal contraception mandate while its lawsuit against the mandate makes its way through the court.

Alliance Defending Freedom describes its client, Tyndale House Publishers, as “the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media,” which directs more than 90 percent of its profits “to religious non-profit causes worldwide.”

The company is contesting a controversial federal mandate by the Department of Health and Human Services, which requires employers to offer health insurance covering contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates the employer’s deeply-held religious beliefs.

While the mandate includes a narrow exemption for some religious organizations and an “accommodation” for certain non-profit religious employers, it does not offer any protection for the consciences of for-profit ventures by persons of faith, such as Tyndale.

The Bible publisher, run by Christians, does not object to normal contraceptives but has serious moral objections to paying or providing for any drugs that may end the life of a new human embryo, thereby causing an early abortion.

The company is one of nearly 200 plaintiffs across the country that have filed lawsuits challenging the mandate on the grounds of religious freedom.

If Tyndale were to fail to comply with the regulation, it could face huge penalties. 

The May 3 order from the D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals means that a decision six months ago granting the publisher a preliminary injunction will stand while the court case, Tyndale House Publishers v. Sebelius, continues. The company will be protected from complying with the mandate in violation of its religious principles until the lawsuit is settled.

The administration’s decision to drop the appeal is the first victory for a preliminary injunction against the mandate on the appellate level.

Bowman stated that altogether, at all levels of the legal system, the Obama administration has lost 19 cases challenging injunctions in court, and has won six.

He told CNA that it seems “fairly obvious” that the administration decided to drop the case “because they’re afraid that their anti-religious argument will be shown to be completely absurd because their position is that not even a Bible publisher can exercise religion.”

“The government does not want to have to defend that position in court, and they’re going to try to delay or hide from that position in court,” he said in an explanation of why the Obama administration may have dropped the appeal.

Bowman also contended that the administration’s decision to end the appeal “undermines the government’s interest in imposing the mandate” universally and demonstrates “that the mandate is not really about women’s health, it’s about politics.”

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