2 The Catholic Accent Diocesan News Thursday, July 3, 2014 Preliminary injunction granted to diocese, entities in HHS mandate lawsuit By Jerry Zufelt EDITOR GREENSBURG — U.S. District Court Judge Arthur Schwab granted the Diocese of Greensburg and its related entities a preliminary injunc-tion June 20, halting enforcement of the HHS mandate while the diocesan lawsuit against the mandate proceeds. Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt said he was pleased that the injunction prevents the federal government from imposing crippling fines on the diocese for noncompliance with the mandate. The fines would have started July 1, the start of the diocese’s health plan year and the date when the provisions of the mandate would have gone into effect in the diocese. The HHS mandate requires the health insurance plans of the diocese’s elementary schools and Catholic Chari-ties to cover services that are contrary to Catholic teaching — including abortifacient drugs, sterilization pro-cedures, contraceptives, and related education and counseling. “We cannot cover those services, and the penalties for noncompliance with the HHS mandate would seriously jeopardize how our Catholic schools and Catholic Charities conduct their ministries and would jeopardize, in fact, their very existence,” Bishop Brandt said. Fines for noncompliance with the HHS mandate are $100 per day per affected beneficiary, which means Catholic Charities could have faced an annual fine of more than $650,000 for noncompliance. In granting the preliminary injunc-tion, the court recognized that the mandate “essentially place(s) plaintiffs in a position where compliance with the aforementioned statute and regu-lation will cause them to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs; or, their conscience disregard of the statute and regulation will cause them to poten-tially incur large monetary fines and/ or other penalties.” The court issued the injunction to preserve the status quo and “prevent any reduction in public services pro-vided by plaintiffs … .” Judge Schwab will hold a hearing on the diocese’s request for a permanent injunction July 16. “We had no choice but to take this legal action in order to protect our religious freedom to act in the public square without violating our Catholic beliefs. Our lawsuit is nearly identical to suits filed by the Dioceses of Erie and Pittsburgh last year and to lawsuits filed by other Catholic entities around the country in the past year,” Bishop Brandt said. The Diocese of Greensburg and Bishop Brandt filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania May 27, claiming the regulation known as the “HHS Man-date” infringes on the Catholic Church’s religious liberty. The suit was filed on behalf of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Greensburg, Bishop Brandt, Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg and St. John the Evangelist Regional Catholic School, Uniontown. The government has provided a very narrow exemption from the mandate for “houses of worship,” including churches and dioceses, Bishop Brandt said. “However, the exemption is not available for equally religious insti-tutions within the diocese, such as schools, universities and social service agencies. “These institutions are integral to the Catholic mission — they are the heart of the church — and they deserve the same exemption as the diocese. The exemption amounts to an attempt by the government to reduce freedom of religion to freedom of private worship only,” he said. Rather than an exemption, the gov-ernment has granted the social service and educational institutions an accom-modation that still requires Catholic Charities and the Catholic elementary schools within the diocese to participate in a process that is material cooperation with evil and violates sincerely-held Roman Catholic beliefs, according to Bishop Brandt. In the preliminary injunction issued June 20, the court recognized that the “‘accommodation’ places a substantial burden on plaintiffs’ right to freely exercise their religion — specifically, their right to not facilitate or initiate the provision of contraceptive products, services, or counseling.” REGISTER NOW for the 13th Annual Paul R. Smiy Golf Outing to benefit Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Greensburg When: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 Where: Ligonier Country Club Cost: $150 per golfer Reservations: Due with payment by Aug. 8 FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO REGISTER: www.cccharitiesgreensburg.org Bob McHenry, 724-837-1840 or email@example.com Accent wins honors The Catholic Accent earned two Catholic Press Association Awards at this year’s Catholic Media Conference held June 18-20 in Charlotte, N.C. The newspaper placed third for best reporting on a special age group for its Oct. 24, 2013, senior housing supplement and earned an honorable mention for its July 18, 2013, coverage of the life and death of Bishop Emeritus Anthony G. Bosco. Bishop speaks of threats to religious liberty at Fortnight opening Continued from page 1 programs in Boston, San Francisco, Wash-ington, D.C., and Illinois; and a require-ment that disqualified the federal funding of a USCCB program that helped victims of human trafficking. “What is gravely, gravely ominous in these developments is that no exceptions are made at all for conscience rights,” Bishop Brandt said. The mandate, he explained, requires the Diocese of Greensburg’s institutions, including Catholic Charities and Catholic elementary schools, to include coverage in their health plans for services that are con-trary to church teaching — abortifacients, artificial contraception and sterilization. The diocese was granted a preliminary injunction, halting enforcement of the mandate’s severe penalties, on June 20. Bishop Brandt said the church is being driven into a ghetto “where the walls are not made of stone, but of law.” The bishop said the government’s ex-emption to the mandate is so narrow that “neither Jesus himself nor Mother Theresa would be ‘religious enough’ to qualify… .” The mandate establishes the govern-ment as the judge of what is religious, what is a religious ministry, what is re-ligious mission and what is not, he said. “This is a gross invasion of religion in an area where the government has no place, no competence and no constitutional right,” he said. Freedom of worship was granted in the Soviet Union’s constitution under commu-nism, Bishop Brandt said, “But those who share the same faith also have the right to a collective or institutional religious freedom which is public. “Our position on the mandate has everything to do with our integrity as Catholics, with our conscience rights and our freedom to live our faith not only as individuals but collectively as citizens of faith in the public square.” During the Fortnight for Freedom, which is sponsored by the U.S. bishops, priests are encouraged to use specific prayers for religious liberty at all Masses and to preach on religious freedom at one Sunday Mass and at Mass on July 4, the close of the fortnight. In addition, pastors are asked to ring the church bells at noon on July 4, if possible. Third intra-diocesan pilgrimage set for July 19 to focus on Mary Pilgrimage schedule 7:45 a.m. Registration/refreshments, Bishop Connare Center, Greensburg 8:30 a.m. Depart 9 a.m. Arrive Blessed Sacrament Cathedral Parish, Greensburg 10:30 a.m. Depart 11 a.m. Arrive Mother of Sorrows Parish, Murrysville 11:45 a.m. Lunch, Murrysville parish 12:30 p.m. Depart 1:30 p.m. Arrive Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Lucernemines site 2:15 p.m. Depart 2:30 p.m. Arrive Our Lady of the Assumption Parish, Coral site 3:15 p.m. Depart 4:15 p.m. Arrive Bishop Connare Center 5:30 p.m. Mass celebrated by Bishop Brandt, with dinner following Continued from page 1 the Mother Church of the diocese. Visitors will then travel to Mother of Sorrows Church, Murrysville, and the Lucernemines and Coral sites of Our Lady of the Assumption Parish before returning to the Bishop Connare Center to tour the recently dedicated Di-ocesan Heritage Center. The day will conclude with Mass celebrated by Bishop Brandt in St. Joseph Chapel, followed by dinner. Prayer and presentations on Mary will be offered throughout the day. Father Lechnar said the pilgrimage will be a won-derful way to honor the various titles of Mary, includ-ing Mary, Our Lady of the Assumption, the diocesan patroness. Participants will see a replica image of Mary, Mother of Sorrows, in Michelangelo’s “Pieta” at Mother of Sorrows Parish and visit the Marian Chapel in Blessed Sacrament Cathedral. “The recently restored Blessed Sacrament Cathe-dral is a sign of unity — and a sign of what being part of the Catholic Church is all about,” he said. “And visiting the recently dedicated Diocesan Heri-tage Center will give people the chance to recall fond memories of the past and look forward in hope to the future,” Father Lechnar said. “It’s an opportunity for pilgrims to see first-hand sights that they might not be familiar with,” he said. The cost of the pilgrimage is $69 per person, which helps to defray the costs of transportation and meals. Seating is limited, and registration is required no later than July 10. Contact Jackie Mignogna at 724-837-0901, extension 1249, with questions or to register.