After Hobby Lobby Comes Priests for Life — Why We Are Confident

Fr. Frank Pavone

Fr. Frank Pavone

On Monday, June 30, Priests for Life expressed satisfaction with the Supreme Court’s decision in the Hobby Lobby case. Upon further analysis of that decision, we continue to be encouraged by it and by its implications for our own case, which has already been argued in the DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which could issue its decision any day, potentially setting up another Supreme Court case regarding the HHS mandate.

In Hobby Lobby, the Court said that the Obama Administration was wrong in trying to force this — and other similarly situated businesses — to obey the HHS Mandate by providing insurance coverage for “services” that the business found morally objectionable.

Why was the Administration wrong?

Because outside of the most unusual circumstances, the government can’t stop people from living their lives — and this includes conducting their businesses — according to their religious convictions. Nor can the government be the one to decide whether those religious convictions are reasonable.

The Supreme Court made that very clear in the Hobby Lobby decision.

What’s happening here is that the Obama Administration wants to expand access to abortion and contraception. It is, in fact, my conviction that Obamacare itself is a bailout of the faltering abortion industry.

Now if the Administration thinks this is an important goal, we have news for them: they are going to have to pursue it without us. We are not going to lift a finger to help.

The case that Priests for Life — and many other religious groups — have brought against the HHS mandate differs from Hobby Lobby in a number of ways, including the fact that the Administration already gives groups like ours an “accommodation,” by which, if we fill out a government form, the Administration claims we do not have to provide the coverage for the objectionable practices. But filling out the form simply initiates a different way for our employees to get the coverage. So, as legal expert O. Carter Snead pointed out in a recent article, ¬†while we are saying “No,” the way we have to say it functions as a “Yes.”

We are encouraged by the Hobby Lobby case because the Court clearly stated that while this “accommodation” might be a solution for businesses, because having it is less restrictive of their religious freedom than not having it, the Court was not deciding whether the accommodation was the right solution for those who object to it. In other words, Hobby Lobby was not objecting to the accommodation, which they did not have in the first place, but rather to the provision of insurance for the objectionable practices. And the Court said it was not up to them to second-guess the reasonableness of those objections.

For us, then, our objection to the accommodation falls under the same category of a sincerely held religious belief which — as the Supreme Court clearly said — the government cannot force believers to violate.

If the government wants to provide citizens with coverage for things we teach are immoral, they can do it themselves. Don’t look for any cooperation, authorization, or facilitation from us. That is the approach that is least restrictive to our religious freedom, and that’s why we are confident as we await the decision in our own case.



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  • goral

    Confidence is good Fr. Pavone. God bless everything that you do. This decision is a cause for celebration. The demonic dems are not celebrating. They’re holding meetings and photo op sessions against the decision. Sen. Blumenthal, the blooming lefty, had a rally at a new construction site for a Hobby Lobby store. He was there to lobby against them. This is in CT, a state that comes in dead last in everything that’s good and leads the nation in highest taxes and prices and possibly per capita abortions. You would think that this millionaire lying politician would welcome a new business. Not so, their “religion” has been temporarily jolted by the Supreme Court and that’s priority one. Speaking of religion, CT comes in fourth in the nation as 40% catholic. S.C. comes in 49th at just under 10% and has all the reps. that are actually respectable.
    This is a bullhorn message to our bishops. You’ve failed!
    If you don’t get the Faith across and continue to pay homage to this regime,
    you’re going to end up in the same line with Kermit Gosnell, on judgement day.

  • Florian

    I am sure Fr. Pavone means well but, sad to say, he lost my support and my respect when he defied his Bishops. Whether his Bishop was right or wrong he should have obeyed, as Saints have done. And Fr. Pavone permitted his fans to storm the Bishop’s residence demanding ‘freedom’ for Fr. Pavone…but Fr. Pavone was not in jail. And many were outraged at the fact that all during his ‘imprisonment’ Fr. Pavone kept sending out massive amounts of e-mails to us demanding money…the most we could send, immediately, or babies would die. This kept up with this demand for money, the most amount of money possible, several times during each e-mail. During the March for Life in Washington, marchers were talking about this and they were angry. I always used to support Fr. Pavone and his work because I support everyone who witnesses to life. But, as I said, when Fr. Pavone refused to obey his Bishop and had massive amounts of e-mails sent out to us demanding large amounts of money or babies would die, my heart broke and … I simply cannot respect or support him anymore…and that is sad.

    • Benjamin2.0

      Are you unwilling to support Priests for Life in opposing mandatory abortion and contraceptive coverage? Do you not respect that cause? I don’t think your ad hominem is terribly effective or relevant in this context.

    • Pax

      hmm… first I’ve of heard of it. Obviously the bishop wasn’t that bothered by it or he would be disciplined and then defrocked. knowing nothing of what was said and done and having full respect for the organization regardless of who runs it i still support them. Of coarse , other than legally the demand of holy obedience does not extend to the the obedience of committing a sin. So , it is at least possible to disobey your superiors in good conscience

    • Joan

      2 of my friends and I followed that episode with Fr. Pavone and his bishop. We intensely watched every day, by internet and other means. Of course, the startling, heartening and encouraging thing for us was that Fr. Pavone never disobeyed his Bishop. He followed orders, some quite preposterous, from the Bishop from the first night. He went through all the proper channels, up to the Vatican, transparent to his Bishop, to regain his freedom of movement and remove the psuedo-suspension. The fact the Vatican responded with incredible speed and alacrity shows Fr. Pavone’s reasoning and cause were respected at very high levels. I’m not sure what on earth you are talking about, but Fr. Pavone deserves all of our respect and appreciation.

      • Joan

        P.S. Regarding the emails, if some sounded demanding or unusual, consider the circumstances. You say Fr. Pavone was not ‘in jail’ but he essentially was. He was imprisoned beyond even the laws of our nation, but not of our Church’s bishops. He had no idea why or when this strange imposition would be lifted. A laptop and community phone were his only lifeline to the world. Consider the tension under which he wrote, isolated in one room, rattlesnakes popping in and out, in a strange convent. It’s amazing he managed to keep his sanity much less write emails.

        • Florian

          I admire your loyalty and I respect you for that…but as far as Fr. Pavone being ‘imprisoned’ – fantasy…he disobeyed his Bishop and he flaunted the fact that he disobeyed his Bishop and his constant e-mails DEMANDING money, THE MOST MONEY YOU CAN SEND!! – were off base…he demanded money over and over again in one e-mail, and in large red letters warning that if the money was not sent, babies would die…Fr. Pavone must think he is the only one fighting for the lives of the unborn…he is not and he is not indispensable; I do admire and respect Priests for Life and all the good they do…and I do admire loyalty…he is fortunate to have one such as you.

          • DianaG2

            I think perhaps he IS indispensable?

            Before he started Priests for Life, even priests and bishops were afraid to speak out against abortion — for fear of offending the powerful and wealthy who promote it.

            Of course, he’s not the only one fighting for the unborn. He never claimed to be.

        • DianaG2

          Yes, I could not believe the way Fr. Pavone continued with patience, kindness and charity toward the bishop.

          What’s wrong with asking for the most money you can send? Every charity does that. And, we should send the most $$ we can afford to part with. (Probably not very much, for most people?)

          He’s not dictating any exact amount. That would be a problem. He’s just asking you to decide for yourself, what is the largest amount you can afford.

          His organization is working very hard to save babies, and they probably have saved many. Babies are dying in abortion all the time, so his requests for donations to help babies live is not unfair, incorrect or inaccurate.

          I don’t really see what your grievance is.

    • DianaG2

      He did not disobey his bishop. It sounds more as if the bishop tried to silence Fr. Pavone.

      Fr. Pavone appealed to Rome, and was exonerated.

  • goral

    I don’t know all the details of Fr. Pavone’s situation so I can’t comment one way or another. One thing is for sure, the bishops are using very strong tactics on their priests. The reason is not because they want make right a wrong but rather because they don’t want to lose the Obama funds coming their way.
    Goodbye, good priests article.

    • DianaG2