BY: CATHERINE DURAND
The lawsuit filed by Franciscan University of Steubenville against the HHS Health-Care Mandate continues, despite obstacles and opposition.
“The Federal Government has sought to dismiss our suit on the grounds that it has not yet caused us harm,” said the Rev. Terence Henry, president of Franciscan.
Henry explained that the motion for dismissal “is before a federal judge, who will rule on the attempt of the Obama Administration to dismiss our lawsuit.”
“We’re waiting for a decision by the federal judge about the dismissal proposal, and we hope he upholds our right to press forward with the lawsuit,” said Henry. He explained that the Obama Administration wants to dismiss the suit on the grounds that no one has yet been harmed by the mandate, but contradicted this opinion, saying, “There is harm. There is a lot of stress put on our school.”
To describe the situation of Franciscan University and other Catholic groups, he used the analogy of a minefield.
“We’re in a minefield, but we haven’t stepped on a mine, we haven’t been harmed,” said Henry. “By the time you step on a mine, it’s a little late to be asking for a blood transfusion.”
The HHS mandate was issued in August of 2011, and Franciscan University joined many other religious organizations in filing suit against the mandate on May 21. The mandate requires health insurance to cover abortions and contraceptives, forcing many institutions to act in direct opposition to the teachings of their faith.
The issue was brought before the Supreme Court, which decided on June 28 that the mandate was in accordance with the constitution, and would have to go into effect on August 1.
“We do not feel that this decision addressed our concerns at all,” said Henry. He added that to follow the demands of the mandate would be to “violate our deepest beliefs and teachings.”
“Pope Benedict said that the Church is at her best when she’s operating in an atmosphere of freedom,” Henry said. He explained that in places such as China where the Church does not have freedom, “its ability to witness to Christ has been diminished.”
“The United States cannot become another China,” Henry said.
“Chesterton once said that the mission of the Catholic Church is filled with excitement and peril, and both of these are being experienced by the church right now,” said Henry. He explained that it is important to join our bishops “in the defense of freedom of religion.”
Henry pointed out the important role of students in fighting for religious freedom, and said, “Students feel a part of the mission of the school – they know the stress this law places us under,” said Henry. “They also know that this school cannot and must not comply with a mandate that will violate our Catholic mission.”
He said the two ways students can help with the school’s mission are to pray and to vote in the upcoming presidential election. “Their prayers and being an informed voter, is going to be very important.”
“November is going to be a very important time, where freedom of religion is either going to continue to be placed in jeopardy, or it’s going to be protected,” he said. “For our students to play an active role as citizens, it is incumbent upon them to be registered to vote, and vote their values.”