Pope visits Little Sisters of the Poor, supports their contraceptive fight

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Pope Francis made an unscheduled visit to The Little Sisters of the Poor during his trip to Washington D.C. last week. He indicated his support to the nuns in their battle against a federal requirement to provide contraceptive coverage to their employees.

The sisters, who operate 29 nursing homes across the United States, are among the groups who sued under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act for an exemption from the contraceptive mandate included in the Affordable Care Act.

In July, a judge ruled that if the nuns wish to refuse contraceptive coverage for employees, they must sign an exemption waiver. The nuns have appealed the case to the Supreme Court, arguing that the waiver violates their religious freedom.

The Pope's visit lasted about 15 minutes, and included no specific mention of the lawsuit, according to the Little Sisters' website. A Vatican spokesman told the press that the Pope's visit was meant as a “sign of support” in the sisters' fight.