Trump's executive order hailed as critical, but just a 'first step'



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ABSTRACTTrump's executive order hailed as critical, but just a 'first step' :: Catholic News Agency (CNA)   Latest News Most Read Archive Resources Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds Columns Documents Mama Needs Coffee CNA Blog Italian Spanish Portuguese German Editors Service About us Advertise Donate Italian Spanish Portuguese German News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Links Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Holy Week Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Pope Francis Prayers Sacraments Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Cinemazlowski Fr. Robert Barron Guest Columnist In Good Company Led Into the Truth Live Greater Making a Difference Movie Reviews Russell Shaw The Common Good with Deacon Keith Fournier The Dispute of the Humanum The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Way of Beauty Viewpoint Documents Pope Francis Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Mama Needs Coffee CNA Blog Home » News » US Trump's executive order hailed as critical, but just a 'first step' U.S. President Donald Trump flanked by religious leaders as he signs an executive order on religious freedom May 4, 2017. Credit Mark Wilson/Getty Images. Follow By Matt Hadro Washington D.C., May 4, 2017 / 01:00 pm ( CNA/EWTN News ) .- Religious freedom advocates credited President Donald Trump with taking a “first step” toward protecting religious freedom with an executive order he signed on Thursday, but stressed that there is still more work to be done. “I thought the executive order was a great step forward,” Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C. told CNA. “[Trump] himself says this is the first step. But it’s the beginning, and we’ve waited a long time for it.” President Donald Trump signed a religious freedom executive order on Thursday in the White House Rose Garden, on the National Day of Prayer, with religious leaders – including Cardinal Wuerl – standing around him. The executive order instructs government agencies to consider issuing new regulations to address conscience-based objections to federal HHS mandate, which requires employers to offer health insurance plans that fund contraception, sterilizations and some drugs that can cause early abortions. It also calls for a loosening of IRS enforcement of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious ministers from making endorsements of political candidates from the pulpit to retain the tax-exempt status of churches. Congressional action is required to formally repeal the law, but the executive order is an important move in ensuring that religious entities can weigh in on political issues without losing their tax-exempt status. Attending the signing of the executive order were the Little Sisters of the Poor, plaintiffs in one of the HHS mandates case against the federal government. Trump honored two of the sisters who were present in the Rose Garden, calling them “incredible nuns who care for the sick, the elderly, and the forgotten.” “I want you to know that your long ordeal will soon be over,” he told the sisters of their years-long HHS mandate case, and saying that his order would protect them and other religious organizations from the mandate. “We are grateful for the president’s order and look forward to the agencies giving us an exemption so that we can continue caring for the elderly poor and dying as if they were Christ himself without the fear of government punishment,” said Mother Loraine, Mother Provincial of the Little Sisters of the Poor. For years, the HHS mandate has been the subject of heated legal debates. It originated in the Affordable Care Act’s rule that health plans include “preventive services,” which was interpreted by President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to include mandatory cost-free coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations, and abortion-causing drugs in health plans. After a wave of criticism, the government offered an “accommodation” to religious non-profits who conscientiously objected to complying with the mandate – they would have to notify the government of their objection, and the government would directly order their insurer to provide the coverage in question. However, dozens of religious charities, schools, and dioceses still sued, saying that even with the “accommodation,” they would still be required to cooperate with – and possibly even to pay for, indirectly – the objectionable coverage. EWTN is among the organizations that have filed lawsuits. CNA is p.......