WASHINGTON – The Little Sisters of the Poor again find themselves in court defending their community against attempts to force Catholic religious to violate their conscience. The Supreme Court of the United States hears oral argument today in the case of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Additionally, the Court will hear oral argument on May 11 in the consolidated cases of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrissey-Berru and St. James School v. Biel. These cases involve the right of Catholic schools, free of government interference, to choose teachers who will teach and model the Catholic faith.
Bishop George V. Murry, S.J. of Youngstown, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee for Religious Liberty, Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann of Kansas City in Kansas, chairman of the Committee on Pro-Life Activities, and Bishop Michael C. Barber, S.J. of Oakland, chairman of the Committee on Catholic Education, have issued a statement addressing the cases:
“The Little Sisters of the Poor is an international congregation that is committed to building a culture of life. They care for the elderly poor, a ministry we appreciate even more as we endure a pandemic to which the elderly poor are particularly vulnerable. Our Lady of Guadalupe and St. James schools continue the Catholic tradition of offering Christian education. All of these ministries are animated by the Spirit of Christ. They are responses to the call of lay and religious to bear witness to the kingdom of God in the world.
“Religious organizations have a right, recognized by the Constitution, to select people who will perform ministry, and the government has no legitimate authority to second guess those ministerial decisions. Nor may the government force a religious order to violate the religious beliefs that animate its mission. It is dismaying that after the federal government expanded religious exemptions to the HHS contraceptive mandate, Pennsylvania and other states chose to continue this attack on conscience. We are hopeful that the Supreme Court will reaffirm the freedom of our Catholic religious orders and schools to practice their faith and to serve others in love.”
The USCCB filed amicus curiae briefs supporting these religious institutions. The briefs can be found here:
Little Sisters of the Poor v. Commonwealth of Pennsylvania
Our Lady of Guadalupe School v. Morrisey-Berru
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