Catholic organizations file religious liberty lawsuits against the federal government in a dozen jurisdictions

For a full list you can go here.


As you know, The First Gay President, Pres. Obama, has been undermining our 1st Amendment rights.  He has been attacking the Catholic Church, directly and through his minions such as the deplorable Kathleen Sebelius, head of the Dept. of Health and Human Services.

I received this via email from the editor of Our Sunday Visitor, John Norton.  What follows is from him, with my emphases:

At 11 a.m. Eastern time today, 43 Catholic dioceses and organizations — including Our Sunday Visitor and the University of Notre Dame — filed religious liberty lawsuits against the federal government in a dozen different jurisdictions around the country.  [Notre Dame.  The irony is rich.  They fawned over The First Gay President, the most aggressive promoter of abortion we have ever seen in the White House against the clear dissatisfaction of the US Bishops.  They shamelessly sucked up to the President.  But now that it comes to something that affects what they have to pay for, they are lining up against Obama’s hostile directives.  So, Fr. Jenkins!  How’s that “common ground” working for Notre Dame now?]

At issue are regulations that require Catholic organizations, employers and insurers to provide or facilitate abortion-inducing drugs, sterilization and contraceptionin violation of their consciences. [Liberals will say that Catholics are making this into a “contraception issue” and that Catholics shouldn’t be permitted to “impose their beliefs” on others.  They will say that this is partisan politics and that the US bishops are just channeling GOP resistance to Obama and the Dems.  No. This is about conscience and the 1st Amendment.]

Equally troubling is the extreme narrowness of the government’s new test for determining which religious organizations are exempt from this mandate[NB:] which would appear to exclude Catholic schools, health care facilities, charities and others like Our Sunday Visitor.

In an editorial in OSV Newsweekly explaining why we’re filing suit, we write:

Today, Our Sunday Visitor stands proudly with our fellow Catholic apostolates and with our bishops in resisting this challenge. We ask all of our readers to stand with us – in charity, praying first and foremost for conversions of heart; in civility, arguing the facts of this case without recourse to bitter partisanship or political rhetoric; and in solidarity, knowing that whatever sacrifices we bear and whatever challenges we endure, we are only doing what is our responsibility as American citizens practicing our faith in the public square.

Our Sunday Visitor’s participation in the religious liberty lawsuit is consonant with our mission of service to the Church and the nation instilled by our company founder.

It seems to us hardly a coincidence that this suit is taking place in the centennial year of Our Sunday Visitor. Founded 100 years ago by then-Father John Noll, Our Sunday Visitor from its beginning sought to inform Catholics about the issues of the day, form them in the Faith, and defend that Faith from attack. It was Father John Noll who stood up to those who attacked Catholic immigrants as un-American and seditious. It was Father John Noll who faced down false preachers who spread slanders about the Church. It was Father John Noll who resisted the power of the Ku Klux Klan when it was such a powerful political force. And it is in his courageous spirit that we invoke as we engage in this great struggle today.  [The Obama White House and their surrogates such as Nancy Pelosi as the KKK who must be resisted.]

For more information about this lawsuit — including a full list of the other litigant Catholic organizations, a link to the filing itself and a wealth of background material — go to

[WDTPRS kudos to OSV]

Here is a link to the PDF of their filing.

Common Ground


FULL LIST (so far) HERE.

Meanwhile, here is a shot of the top of the filing as filed by the Archdiocese of New York:

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Joe Magarac says:

    I think you’re being a bit hard on Notre Dame. Fr. Jenkins is one of twelve kids, a faithful priest, and firmly pro-life. By all accounts, he is a bit naive politically and did not anticipate the explosion that giving Obama an honorary degree would (rightly) cause. But he has learned from it and moved to atone for it by, among other things, attending Marches for Life; encouraging more Catholic initiatives on campus; etc.

    Notre Dame is attempting to compete with the world’s leading universities and remain Catholic at the same time. I’m not aware of any other institution that is doing that. Georgetown competes with the world’s best but has given up its inheritance; Wyoming Catholic and Christendom and the like are faithfully Catholic but are not trying to serve the role that the great Catholic schools of the Middle Ages did.

    Notre Dame is walking a tightrope and is going to make a few falls. They should absolutely be called to account for all of them. But I don’t think you have cause to assume that ND’s motives in opposing the contraception mandate are solely financial as you suggest.

  2. ContraMundum says:

    Maybe someone who is politically naive should not be tossing out honorary doctorates to politicians; maybe he should stick to something he understands. And maybe he should react better when the “explosion” comes from not just the bulk of the American episcopate, but also from the local Ordinary.

  3. chantgirl says:

    Joe Magarac – you may be right about Fr. Jenkins. I don’t personally know him, but it would be a lot easier to believe what you say about his character if he hadn’t allowed an elderly priest to be arrested twice on his campus for doing such threatening things as carrying a religious banner and praying the rosary. I speculate that Notre Dame got hit in the wallet after some of that bad press, and had to do some damage control.

  4. Jim of Bowie says:

    But he has learned from it and moved to atone for it …
    He could start by publicly acknowledging his error for this public scandal. Has he done that?

  5. aviva meriam says:

    Only 43 Dioceses and orgnizations? What about the rest?
    …..and so it begins….

    But seriously, I’m glad some within the leadership are fighting back. They will be in my prayers.

  6. NDPhys says:

    I’m glad that Notre Dame (as well as the Diocese of Ft. Wayne-South Bend, incidentally) have filed these lawsuits. For Notre Dame, this is a good first step. Unfortunately, the statements from the University and Fr. Jenkins tend to be weak and very nuanced, and those statements surrounding this lawsuit are no exception. Notre Dame is missing a great opportunity to take up the banner and lead the charge, but that can’t happen if they mince their words and are unwilling to stand up and boldly proclaim the Gospel, although it is “out of season”.

  7. Pingback: Catholic Mom Blogs Ascension Thursday Religious Liberty Daily Examen | The Pulpit

  8. Joe Magarac says:

    maybe he [Jenkins] should react better

    Maybe all of us should be better Catholics. Until that happy day, we can and should wish others the best and not the worst in their own pilgrimages toward grace.

    an elderly priest [was] arrested twice on his campus for doing such threatening things as carrying a religious banner and praying the rosary

    Fr. Weslin, whom I met once some years before these events, was among other things a professional protestor. Bishop D’Arcy led a prayer vigil at Notre Dame when Obama spoke in an area of campus that the secret service had cleared for protests. Fr. Weslin intentionally went to the part of campus where protests were prohibited with the intention of being arrested. I admire his witness, but I don’t think you can blame ND for “allowing” the police to enforce a security decision that ND didn’t make.

    I speculate that Notre Dame got hit in the wallet after some of that bad press

    Notre Dame and the protestors reached a public settlement that did not involve ND paying them anything. You can look it up. ND did not arrest anyone and could not be liable to anyone who was arrested.

    Notre Dame is missing a great opportunity to take up the banner and lead the charge

    It is joining a lawsuit, for God’s sake! What more do you want?

  9. The HHS debacle says more about the insincerity of Obama’s call for common ground than it does anything on Fr. Jenkins.

  10. Dismas says:

    This is incredibly good and encouraging news! However, I need someone with a law backround to break this down for me? Will all these suits be rolled into one or a few or an individual trail by jury for each complaint?

    Would Sebelius have to appear for each trial? Oh, the irony and dizzying joy at the thought of her being tied up in court for the rest of her career!!!!!!!!!!!!!! What’s left for her defense except to claim obedience to the boss?

  11. Johnno says:

    They could also start by stripping Obama of that previous horror… I mean… ‘honor.’

  12. StJude says:

    Good news!

  13. LaxMom25 says:

    Joe Magarac, I think the reference to Notre Dame being “hit in the wallet for some of the bad press” refers to the alumni and other benefactors who ceased contributing to the University in response to the honorary degree given to the President.

  14. Joe Magarac says:

    Maybe so. I am an alum who ceased contributing to the University in response to the honorary degree being given to Obama. I may reverse course now that the University has filed this suit.

  15. Kathleen10 says:

    I’m no expert in Notre Dame, but I disagree about Fr. Jenkins being “naive”. I don’t know the man, but I do know universities a bit, and they react when they are being “called out” in some way. Damage control, that sort of thing. There must have been fallout. Good! To fawn and faint over Obama, have him at the campus for his honorary doctorate, and did they not COVER the religious statues on campus while Obama was there? I believe that was Notre Dame that did that. Awful.
    Obama’s record on abortion has been one thing that he can’t escape. He is an extremist, given his position that late-term abortion is not only acceptable, but he voted that a child still alive after an abortion is not to be provided care. For a supposedly Catholic university to invite anyone with that extreme position to the campus is scandalous, to give them a degree, is to say we agree with your position on abortion.
    So Notre Dame is coming to the party, better late than never, I guess.

    But for the head of a university to be presumed naive? No, that I cannot buy. Politically savvy and self-protective, yes, naive, no.

    Everyone is accountable to somebody. If schools and universities are not held accountable (enough) by the faithful laity, as they once were, then my sincere hope and expectation would be that further up the Catholic food chain, the Bishops would hold them accountable!
    There used to be a bumper sticker that keeps coming to my mind about this situation. It said LEAD, FOLLOW, OR GET OUT OF THE WAY. I hope the Bishops decide to truly lead, as in, calling out politicians and others who are obviously and clearly anti-Catholic while claiming to be Catholic, and holding institutions accountable who promote anti-Catholicism either openly or by association with those who live lives that are completely contrary to Catholic teaching on faith and morals. Personally, I would like to see the Catholic church develop some real moxie and say, no more. Then draw a line in the sand and defend it. We do need our faith to be defended, but we need Bishops who believe our faith is right, and good, and worth defending, all of it. I couldn’t defend socialism, because I don’t believe in it. I couldn’t defend abortion, because I don’t believe in it. So it is with most people. So why is our faith not defended? This is what I try to understand, and I don’t.

  16. Legisperitus says:

    Let’s be serious, media… most American bishops are Democrat supporters by instinct and long tradition. They would love to love Obama. But he’s given them no choice.

  17. Gail F says:

    Notre Dame filed a lawsuit. How many other Catholic colleges have done so? Franciscan University of Steubenville. Instead of griping, can people just notice that we are saying “Notre Dame” and “Franciscan University of Steubenville” in the same breath? I am sorry that Notre Dame did what it did with President Obama and the honorary degree. But that was then, this is now. To fight this, we have to start from NOW. Where are all the other Catholic universities? I hope that this is just the beginning of the suits, not the end. And let’s not forget that there were suits filed before this.

  18. ndmom says:

    Totally agree with Joe, on both Fr. Jenkins and Fr. Weslin. This lawsuit is NOT about the money. The cost of adding insurance coverage for contraceptives is trivial. Notre Dame is making real and sincere efforts to be a top research university that is also authentically Catholic, a task made far more difficult by the entrenched secularism among certain segments of the faculty, administration, and alums. It took decades for Notre Dame to slide into secular mediocrity, and Fr. Jenkins cannot be expected to turn that ship around overnight. So, when Fr. Jenkins attended the March for Life with Notre Dame students in 2009, it is unfortunate that he was met with “Free the ND 88” banners instead of a genuine welcome from those who should be supporting his efforts to restore and strengthen the University’s Catholic identity. Yes, the Obama invitation was a debacle, but God in his providence has allowed that episode to inspire many worthwhile initiatives on campus.

    As for Fr. Weslin and the other protestors, they knew exactly what they were doing and got exactly what they were asking for.

  19. Katylamb says:

    God bless Notre Dame and Father Jenkins! What’s past is past. I agree with the question: “Where are all the others?”

  20. Clinton says:

    “Where are all the others?” — Katylamb

    I’d guess that there are many, many more suits still in the pipeline. The list Fr. Z posted is
    surely not yet complete.

    As for Fr. Jenkins, he knew exactly what a pro-abortion, anti-life politician Obama was (and is).
    Fr. Jenkins made no effort to conceal his shabby, shabby treatment of ND’s Ordinary, Bishop
    D’Arcy, and dismissed the protests of the overwhelming majority of American bishops. While
    I wish him well in his lawsuit, I don’t believe the Catholic identity of Notre Dame has been at
    all well-served by his administration, his recent efforts at damage control notwithstanding.

  21. chantgirl says:

    Laxmom25- thank you. Yes, I was referring to the alumni donation fallout that hopefully took place after the honorary degree stunt. I was also under the impression that Notre Dame could have had the charges/fines dropped for those who were arrested, but did not. I am grateful that Notre Dame and other Catholic entities are starting to speak up, and I’m hopeful that the HHS mandate and Obamacare can be defeated in the court, but if they are not, these institutions are going to have to put their money where their mouths are. I am not quite as hopeful that they will all stand strong and face the hard consequences if it comes to that. Hopefully it won’t come to that, but if it does we will find out who the men and boys are.

  22. FloridaJoan says:

    Good news that made me go back to this morning’s reading ( Terce Psalm 26 Finale ” I believe I will see the bounty of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, acquit yourself like a man; be stout of heart, and hold out for the Lord. ” I knew there was a reason my heart skipped upon reading these words ! Hope springs …
    As St Pio said ” Pray, hope and don’t worry ”

    pax et bonum

  23. moon1234 says:

    I would not trust anything that comes from Notre Dame at this point. They put their name on a lawsuit being championed by someone else. Not much risk there. They did nothing to remove the honor bestowed on Obama. No apology from Fr. Jenkins, etc.

    My sister went to Stubenville. I would support my kids going there, but would never even consider sending ANY of them Notre Dame. They are not Catholic in my opinion. It would make me sick to set foot on the campus knowing what happened there.

    I think the lawsuit is needed to clarify if the people even have standing to challenge this. My guess is the court will throw it out for lack of standing. We need our states to take up this cause. It is much harder for the Feds to ignore states that won’t implement their peggy, immoral decisions.

    Does anyone think we need a Romney or an Obama now? We need someone who wants to get rid of all of these alphabet federal agencies. This stuff will never end until we put an end to the agencies that are foisting this stuff on us.

  24. Facta Non Verba says:

    I just read the full complaint, which is on Cardinal Dolan’s blog. The first count is for violation of RFRA, the federal statute that provides strict scrutiny must be used when determining whether a federal act violates the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment. Counts 2-6 are for other general violations under the US Constitution. Counts 7 and 8 are for violation of administrative law requirements (notice & comment; arbitrary & capricious). Jones Day, a very good firm, is counsel for the Church.

  25. SKAY says:

    Very good news.

    Before and after Obama’s appearance at Notre Dame I remember people commenting about the Notre Dame Board of Trustees. Apparently, at the time there were influential members on the board from Chicago and elsewhere who were big Obama supporters for various reasons. There was some speculation about their roll in the invitation and the honorary degree since some had received favors while Obama was still a Senator.

    I wonder if these Obama supporters are still on the board.

  26. NDPhys says:

    Mr. Joe Magarac, let me be more clear than I was above. I’m not trying in any way to be an “ND Basher,” I’m proud and absolutely blessed to be one of her students. I am very glad and impressed that Notre Dame has worked in conjunction with all of these other organizations to file lawsuits simultaneously. I would never question Fr. Jenkins’ sincerity or commitment to the Truth.

    Where we do disagree is primarily prudential. I think it would best serve Notre Dame as an institution and the Church as a whole if she would rise up as a clear voice speaking publicly and unequivocally about all aspects of this mandate, including the legal, ethical and yes moral aspects. Rather than acknowledging that Catholics at the University make “conscientious decisions to use contraceptives,” Fr. Jenkins could have recognized that no Catholic in good conscience can accept contraception (since the issue is conscience), or even briefly justify the Church’s teachings. If a school with a reputation such as Notre Dame would stand up in the public square and preach the Truth about conscience and contraception, they could be a true leader in the movement.

  27. a catechist says:

    Fr. Jenkins finding a spine isn’t irony, it’s prayers answered. Now the means of those prayers being answered may have been less than edifying–maybe someone smarter than he spelled out clearly the fallout if Notre Dame was NOT part of the lawsuit–and I’ll be very happy if revoking the honorary degree takes place. But he’s doing the right thing, and this is an answer to the prayers of many faithful alumni like me.

    As an undergrad I learned Latin there and attended my first-ever Latin Mass at Notre Dame (yes, while McBrian was chairman of theology). At Notre Dame I learned to love the art & music & theatre of the Medieval Catholic past, as well as Anselm and Gregory the Great–to love Tradition. It mattered that my faculty were Catholic. It’s not just that Fr. Jenkins is doing the right thing now–he’s taking a stand that will make secularized professors think twice about applying to teach there, and that can only be a good thing.

  28. rodin says:

    The flea bites?

  29. off2 says:

    I look forward to seeing dioceses in California join the suit. Altho that might be a waste of resources as CA is in the Ninth Circuit.

  30. Supertradmum says:

    I just got the news here in Europe. I am glad ND is finally on the right side. My guess is that some rich alums made a fuss. There are some who would be conservative.

    This is a good move, but we should be emphasizing morality and not just legality.

  31. NDPhys says:

    To moon1234: to be clear, the lawsuit is University of Notre Dame v. Sebelius, Solis, Geithner, HHS, Dept. of Labor, Dept. of Treasury. Can be found here.

    There were 12 different lawsuits filed in 12 different jurisdictions. The one filed by Notre Dame was not filed with anyone else. So, in fact, Notre Dame didn’t just “put their name” on someone else’s lawsuit.

  32. ContraMundum says:

    I have to assume that the “multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles” are to avoid any one court blockading the suit, like what happened to Prop 8 out in California. On the other hand, presumably all these separate lawsuits will in fact be consolidated — maybe when they reach the Supreme Court? Does anybody know enough about law to make a guess as to how this is going to be handled procedurally? (I’m not asking for which side wins in court, just the steps it will go through.) Surely this will end up before the Supreme Court, because whoever loses each round will appeal.

  33. revueltos67 says:

    Re the picture:

    Dear Fr. Jenkins,

    How’s that Anointing of The One thing working out for ya?

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