President Obama meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican March 27

VATICAN CITY – As the Vatican prepares the canonization ceremonies for Pope John XXIII and Pope John Paul II this Sunday, the unspoken issue dividing the Roman Catholic Church and the White House is President Obama’s determination to force faith-based groups to pay for abortions and contraception as part of Obamacare.

Pope Francis, affirming Catholic doctrine, recently characterized abortion as an “unspeakable crime.”

Obama, nevertheless, is sending to the Vatican a three-person delegation with an activist pro-abortion history to represent the U.S. at the canonizations.

At a Planned Parenthood conference in Washington, D.C., one year ago, President Obama ended his remarks with: “Thank you, Planned Parenthood. God bless you. God bless America,” despite the group’s status as the No. 1 provider of abortions in the U.S.

On April 11, just two weeks after Obama’s meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican, the pope characterized abortion as an “unspeakable crime” in a speech to the Italian pro-life group Moviemento per la Vita, Movement for Life.

“We know human life is sacred and inviolable,” Francis said. “Every civil law is based on the recognition of the first and fundamental right, that to life, which is not subject to any conditions, neither economic nor qualitative nor ideological.”

Characterizing “one of the most serious risks today” as the divorce between economics and morality, Francis strongly supported the rights of the unborn, saying: “It is therefore necessary to reiterate the strongest opposition to any direct attack on life, especially innocent and defenseless life, and the unborn child in the mother’s womb is the innocent par excellence.”

To underscore the fact that he was articulating Roman Catholic doctrine, Francis recalled the words of the Second Vatican Council, saying, “From the moment of conception, life must be guarded with the greatest care while abortion and infanticide are unspeakable crimes.

The White House announced April 11 its delegation to the canonizations Sunday consists of the following:

  • John Podesta, the former White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton and the current counselor to the president who founded the leftist Washington-based think tank Center for American Progress;
  • Rep. Xavier Becerra, D-Calif., chairman of the House Democratic Caucus; and
  • Katie Beirne Fallon, assistant to the president and director of legislative affairs in the White House.

All three are Democrats with a history of supporting abortion as a central issue in the Democratic Party-framed debate over “a woman’s reproductive rights.”

Sally Steenland, the director of the Faith and Progressive Policy Initiative at the Center for American Progress and an outspoken critic of pro-life religious groups, wrote a stinging criticism of faith-based objections to abortion in a Feb. 5 article on the CAP website.

“Anti-choice voices have tried to monopolize morality and God, even as they increasingly jeopardize a woman’s health by making it very difficult for her to get the health care she needs,” Steenland wrote, expressing a Democratic Party theme that has attempted to frame Republicans as opposing “women’s reproductive rights” because of the religious right’s opposition to abortion on moral grounds.

The abortion-rights group NARAL has given Becerra a 100 percent rating for his voting history on abortion issues.

Fallon, a former senior aide to Sen. Charles Schumer , D-N.Y., and a confident to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., is widely credited as being a leading strategist in developing the Obamacare rule that requires employers to provide abortion coverage in employer-sponsored health insurance.

‘We didn’t choose this fight’

More than 100 lawsuits have been brought by religious ministries, individuals, organizations and companies against Obamacare on the grounds it violates religious rights by forcing citizens to pay for abortion-causing procedures, even if it violates their beliefs.

The vast majority of the rulings in the lawsuits have favored religious believers, but a federal precedent is expected to be set this year by the U.S. Supreme Court, which accepted a pair of cases.

Oral arguments were heard last month in Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. and Conestoga Wood Specialties Corp. v. Sebelius.

Both companies are owned by Christian families.

As WND reported, supporters gathered outside the Supreme Court March 25 to greet the Hahn family, owner of Conestoga Wood, and the Green family, owner of Hobby Lobby, as they gave statements after the court heard oral arguments.

“Rather than sacrifice our obedience to God, my family, the Green family, and many others have chosen to take a stand to defend life and freedom against government coercion,” declared Anthony Hahn, CEO of Conestoga Wood Specialties, a Mennonite.

“We didn’t choose this fight,” Hahn said. “Our families would have been happy to just continue providing good jobs and generous health-care benefits. But the government forced our hand.”

WND reported a federal judge issued an injunction last Friday preventing the federal government from imposing the abortifacient mandate against Dr. James Dobson and his radio ministry, Family Talk.

When the lawsuit was filed last year, Dobson explained his group was suing then-HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius “for forcing or trying to force all of us to give abortifacient medications to our employees, and I just absolutely refuse to do it.’

“We’ll close down before I’ll do it,” he said.

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