On day two of his trip to Washington, Pope Francis made an unscheduled surprise visit to the Little Sisters of the Poor following his canonization Mass. The sisters have a convent in the city. The pontiff made the visit to show support for the sisters, who are suing the federal government over the contraception mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
Just in: Vatican spokesman says Pope Francis has met with Little Sisters of the Poor, who are suing over ACA contraceptive mandate #PopeInDC— Steven Portnoy (@stevenportnoy) September 24, 2015
Pope Francis just met w/ the Little Sisters of the Poor as a “sign of support” for their opposition against a federal contraception mandate.— Stephanie Ramos (@sramosABC) September 24, 2015
The Little Sisters of the Poor is a religious order that was founded to serve the elderly poor. As the Little Sisters do not exclusively employ or serve Catholics, (which would violate their vow of hospitality) they are not considered to be a "religious employer" and are subjected to the HHS Contraception Mandate. The sisters filed suit in September 2013.
Pope Francis made special mention of the need to preserve religious liberty during his remarks this morning outside the White House. While he didn't name the Little Sisters explicitly, it was fairly obvious what he was talking about. Good on Pope Francis for making a surprise visit to provide moral support the Little Sisters in their fight against the federal government.