Pope Francis stopped briefly at a Washington, D.C., home for the elderly operated by the Little Sisters of the Poor on Wednesday, a visit a Vatican spokesman said signaled support for the Catholic charity in its legal battle over the Affordable Care Act's birth-control mandate, reports The Washington Post.
The Little Sisters, an order of nuns that runs senior-care facilities across the country, is among dozens of religious nonprofits challenging the requirement that employees' health insurance includes contraceptive coverage. The nuns contend an accommodation for faith groups, under which the government or a third-party insurer steps in to provide such care if the organization states a moral objection to doing so, still makes them complicit in providing birth control, in violation of their creed.
Mark Rienzi of the legal nonprofit Becket Fund, which is representing the Little Sisters, said a nun he spoke to after the papal visit said Francis stayed at the home for about 15 minutes. One nun told Mr. Rienzi she didn't hear the pope mention the lawsuit. The charity lost in federal appeals court in July and has petitioned the Supreme Court to take the case. In a morning meeting at the White House, the pope called for strong protections for religious liberty.