Conscience rights

Editorial | Matters of faith

The U.S. Constitution does not permit federal courts or government officials to be the ultimate arbiters of matters of faith.

Today, the government is seeking to transform the Religious Freedom Restoration Act's substantial burden analysis -- allowing for intrusion only in the "interests of the highest order" -- into what attorneys for the U.S. bishops call "an exercise in amateur moral theology."

VIEWPOINT | Separation of Church and State -- what it really means

Christopher Stefanick

The Declaration of Independence states we all have God-given rights -- not government-given rights, nor king-given rights -- and that the whole purpose of a government is to defend the rights that a government certainly has no right to take away. Among the most important of our God-given rights is the freedom of religion.

For the first time in U.S. history, we have a presidential administration that has chosen to use the words "freedom of worship" instead of "freedom of religion" -- a dangerous shift of phraseology.

BEFORE THE CROSS | Faith in Jesus Christ is deeply personal, but it is not private

Archbishop Robert J. Carlson

We are baptized into a family of faith, the Church, and we live out our Christian discipleship in communion with all our sisters and brothers (living and deceased) who make up the one Body of Christ. The social, or communal, dimension of Catholic belief and practice is every bit as important as the individual, or personal, dimension of Christian life.

High court hears oral arguments in companies' challenge to HHS mandate

A woman led a chant in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington against the federal government’s contraceptive mandate March 25. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in lawsuits filed against the mandate by Hobby Lobby Stores and Conestoga Wood Specialties on religious rights grounds.

WASHINGTON -- Oral arguments in two cases before the U.S. Supreme Court March 25 focused on whether for-profit corporations have religious grounds to object to the new health care law's requirement that most employers provide contraceptive coverage in their employee health plans.

Crowds on both sides of the issue gathered outside the Supreme Court on a cold, snowy morning, holding aloft signs and chanting for their cause.

Little Sisters of the Poor | From 1839 to today


The Little Sisters of the Poor stay grounded in the knowledge that they are carrying on the work of their foundress.

In 1839 St. Jeanne Jugan, a poor 47-year old working woman in post-revolutionary France, shared a small apartment with a friend. They took in an infirm, blind, elderly neighbor who had been left alone when her sister was dying in the hospital. Soon they began caring for other elderly, and girls from the neighborhood joined in providing care.

Little Sisters of the Poor

Lisa Johnston |

The Little Sisters of the Poor operate their St. Louis Residence on the northside of the city. The Supreme Court last month issued an order affirming a temporary injunction blocking enforcement of a contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act against them. The sisters have expressed concern about the impact on their ministry but continue their ministry, seeing Christ in the elderly they serve. Sister Jean Dwyan laughed with Martha Spurgeon in the hallway of the St. Louis Residence, which serves about 110 people.

Katie Hoormann stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded. She waved the bat around and got set.

The young man who was the pitcher let an underhanded toss soar. Katie swung and made contact, driving in a run for the Little Sisters of the Poor residents' team. Applause erupted in the open-space auditorium.

"She's 96 years old," exclaimed a gentleman sitting in a chair, with his walker at his side.

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