“With a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor” -U.S. Declaration of Independence, 1776
As a Catholic organization, FOCUS (Fellowship of Catholic University Students) seeks to provide just and affordable healthcare for its employees, while harmonizing the healthcare provisions of the Affordable Care Act with Catholic principles. However, the HHS contraceptive mandate has rendered such a service impossible.
Under the demands of the HHS contraceptive mandate, our organization would be forced to violate our most sincere religious convictions and to participate in actions that, we believe, are gravely immoral. If we resist these demands, we face exorbitant fines that would severely cripple, if not destroy, our organization and its missionary activities.
Therefore, FOCUS has no choice but to take legal action in hopes that our First Amendment rights, including our right to the free exercise of religion, will be upheld.
On December 3, 2013, the feast of Saint Francis Xavier—patron saint of FOCUS missionaries, FOCUS filed a lawsuit against United States government officials, including Kathleen Sebelius and the Department of Health and Human Services. We are deeply grateful to the attorneys of the Alliance Defending Freedom, from whom FOCUS has received pro bono legal representation, for their efforts in protecting our religious liberties.
Requirements of the HHS contraceptive mandate:
The HHS Contraceptive Mandate requires many, but not all, employers to provide insurance at no cost for:
- abortifacient devices
- related education and counseling
The Catholic Conscience:
Guided by 2,000 years of consistent Catholic teaching, we firmly uphold and promote the Church’s precept that the use of contraception, in any form, strips conjugal love of its life-giving nature and leaves both women and men susceptible to objectification, so that the marriage partner is reduced to a means of pleasure. Our religious beliefs guide us to promote the health and dignity of every individual; to be required to provide our employees with contraceptives would act in direct contrast to both.
Neither FOCUS nor its employees want to be forced to participate in providing immoral health insurance coverage to our families.
It is crucial to note, however, that through this lawsuit, we are NOT attempting to prevent anyone from choosing to use contraceptives. In the words of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, "The Church does not impose but freely proposes the Catholic faith, well aware that conversion is the mysterious fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit.” We revere each individual’s right to form and follow his or her own conscience, but we demand that the United States government allow us the freedom to follow ours.
We did not ask for this fight. Indeed, Church leaders have done all in their power to avoid it. But this mandate has left us no choice. We call upon you for your prayers. We ask you to intercede for our apostolate and for the cause of religious liberty for a nation that was founded upon these important principles. We fight not just for ourselves, but for the hundreds and thousands of other organizations that are opposed to this mandate but do not have the resources or capacity to stand up for religious freedom.
“Since January 20 , when the final, restrictive HHS [Mandate] . . . was first announced, we have become certain of two things: religious freedom is under attack, and we will not cease our struggle to protect it. …We have made it clear in no uncertain terms to the government that we are not at peace with its invasive attempt to curtail the religious freedom we cherish as Catholics and Americans.” –Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York
Ours faith stands upon an endless line of saints and martyrs, many of whom were taxed, tortured, and killed under governments and regimes that denied them freedom of religion. Among these martyrs are Thomas More, Edmund Campion, Charles Lwanga, Paul Miki, Miguel Pro, Jerzy Popiełuszko, Cecilia of Rome, Catherine of Alexandria, and Perpetua and Felicity of Carthage, to name only a few. Through their prayers and yours, we hope that our constitutional rights will be restored, and that the U.S. Department of Justice will uphold and be true to its name.
*For media inquiries, please contact the Alliance Defending Freedom at 480-444-0020.