Pope Francis met with the nuns suing over Obamacare

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Little Sisters Lose in Court


As Pope Francis made his way to the United States he denied claims that he's a liberal,saying, "I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church." Republicans probably doubted that when the pope praised the Obama administration's effort to combat climate change during an arrival ceremony at the White House on Wednesday, then urged American bishops to be welcoming to immigrants during a service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew the Apostle in Washington.

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But later in the day he evened the score. After making a passing reference to the "innocent victims of abortion" while addressing the bishops, Pope Francis made apreviously unannounced visit with the Little Sisters of the Poor, the group of nuns who went to court to fight the Affordable Care Act's requirement that employers provide health insurance that covers birth control.

Check out pictures of Pope Francis' visit to Washington, DC:
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Pope Francis met with the nuns suing over Obamacare
Pope Francis addresses the joint session of Congress on September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Pope is the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint meeting of Congress, including more than 500 lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and top administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO/VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Pope Francis arrives before addressing the joint session of Congress on September 24, 2014 in Washington, DC. The Pope is the first leader of the Roman Catholic Church to address a joint meeting of Congress, including more than 500 lawmakers, Supreme Court justices and top administration officials including Vice President Joe Biden. AFP PHOTO/PAUL J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 24: Pope Francis addresses a joint meeting of the U.S. Congress in the House Chamber of the U.S. Capitol on September 24, 2015 in Washington, DC. Pope Francis is the first pope to address a joint meeting of Congress and will finish his tour of Washington later today before traveling to New York City. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Members of the House and Senate applause as Pope Francis begins his address before a joint meeting of Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, making history as the first pontiff to do so. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
UNITED STATES - SEPTEMBER 24: Speaker of the House John Boehner, R-Ohio, right, speaks with Pope Francis in the U.S. Capitol building as the Pope arrives to deliver his speech to a joint meeting of Congress on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/Roll Call/Pool)
House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio greets Pope Francis on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, as the Pope arrived before addressing a joint meeting. (Bill Clark/Roll Call/ via AP, Pool)
Pope Francis places his hand atop a young boys head while the boy takes a selfie before the Pope departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, en route to the Capitol to address a joint meeting of Congress Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Pope Francis conducts Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis, center, arrives inside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, for the Canonization Mass of Blessed Junipero Serra. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
Pope Francis stands at the alter of the Blessed Sacrament Chapel for a private prayer before participating in the Midday Prayer Service at the Cathedral of St. Matthew in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015 . (Mark Wilson/Pool Photo via AP)
Seminarians greet Pope Francis, bottom center, as he walks into the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before holding a mass to canonize Junipero Serra. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, Pool)
Pope Francis, left, kisses the altar during a Mass outside the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/David Goldman)
President Barack Obama, first lady Michelle Obama and Pope Francis wave to the crowd on the South Lawn from the Truman Balcony of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, during a state arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
In this photo taken Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, President Barack Obama shakes with Pope Francis in the Oval Office of the White House, in Washington. (L'Osservatore Romano/Pool Photo via AP)
Pope Francis give the thumbs-up from the popemobile during a parade around the Ellipse near the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis waves to the crowd as he rides in a popemobile along a parade route around the National Mall on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. Thousands of people gathered near the Ellipse to catch of glimpse of Pope Francis after he addressed an audience of 15,000 invited guests on the South Lawn of the White House during an official arrival ceremony with President Barack Obama. The Pope began his first trip to the United States at the White House followed by a visit to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and will then hold a Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Spectators on the South Lawn of the White House watch as U.S. President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis during an arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope begins his first trip to the United States at the White House followed by a visit to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and will then hold a Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
Pope Francis holds the head of a small child as he leans from the popemobile during a parade, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the popemobile during a parade in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, following a state arrival ceremony at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, Pool)
President Barack Obama talks with Pope Francis in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis walk through the Colonnade on their way to a bilateral meeting in the Oval Office of the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. AFP PHOTO/MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis stand during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis' historic maiden visit to the United States. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and Pope Francis stand at attention during the playing of the national anthems during a state arrival ceremony for the pope, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama shakes hands with Pope Francis after this welcoming speech during the state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
US President Barack Obama greets Pope Francis during an arrival ceromony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
People listen as Pope Francis speaks during an arrival ceromony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, D.C. - SEPTEMBER 23: Spectators gather near the Ellipse to catch a glimpse of Pope Francis along the route his Popemobile will take near the White House, September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope is on a three-day visit of Washington, D.C. as part of a larger visit to the U.S. (Photo by Allison Shelley/Getty Images)
Pope Francis speaks along side US President Barack Obama at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama and Pope Francis stand during an arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis' historic maiden visit to the United States. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis speaks during at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
Pope Francis speaks during an arrival ceremony hosted by US President Barack Obama on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, September 23, 2015. More than 15,000 people packed the South Lawn for a full ceremonial welcome on Pope Francis' historic maiden visit to the United States. AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
US President Barack Obama welcomes Pope Francis to the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama hosts Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama greet Pope Francis during a state arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
President Barack Obama greets Pope Francis as he arrives in Fiat 500L for a state arrival ceremony, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
People wave US and Vatican flags as they wait for the arrival of the Pope Francis at the White House in Washington DC on September 22, 2015. A crowd of thousands are stretched back across the gloriously sun-kissed South Lawn awaiting the arrival of Pope Francis and President Barack Obama. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
People wait for the arrival of Pope Francis at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington,DC. President Barack Obama will host Pope Francis at the White House for the first time Wednesday, warmly embracing the Catholic pontiff seen as both a moral authority and potent political ally. AFP PHOTO / VINCENZO PINTO (Photo credit should read VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - SEPTEMBER 23: Pope Francis exits his car to greet the U.S. President Barack Obama and first Lady Michelle Obama in an arrival ceremony at the White House on September 23, 2015 in Washington, DC. The Pope begins his first trip to the United States at the White House followed by a visit to St. Matthew's Cathedral, and will then hold a Mass on the grounds of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Pope Francis waves while he greets school children prior to his departure from the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Pope Francis will visit the White House, becoming only the third pope to visit the White House. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis crowd the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
A woman reacts as Pope Francis hugs her as he departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, en route to the White House where President Barack Obama will hot a state arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
CROP OF DCCO110 * Pope Francis is kissed by a well-wisher as he departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in the heart of Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Pope Francis will visit the White House, becoming only the third pope to visit the White House. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
Spectators hoping for a glimpse of Pope Francis waves Papal and U.S. Flags on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015, before the official state arrival ceremony where President Barack Obama will welcome the pope. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Children of parents who work at the Lithuanian Embassy take selfies with Pope Francis as he departs the Apostolic Nunciature, the Vatican's diplomatic mission in Washington, Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2015. Pope Francis will visit the White House where President Barack Obama will host a state arrival ceremony. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)
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Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi said Pope Francis made a short stop at the sisters' Washington convent, which is next door to the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, where he celebrated Mass and made 18th-century Spanish missionary Junípero Serra a saint. "This is a sign, obviously, of support for them" in their legal case, Lombardi said.

The nuns, along with other religious groups, argued that Obamacare's contraception mandate forced them to violate their belief that life begins at conception. After the Supreme Court ruled in 2014 that private businesses could be exempted from the law, the Obama administration provided an accommodation for those with religious objections that would allow them to notify the government of their opposition and require the insurer to provide the coverage instead. The Little Sisters of the Poor pressed the issue in court, saying requiring them to opt out was still a violation of their religious freedom. In July, the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected that argument, and the nuns have appealed their cause to the Supreme Court.

Stay tuned to find out which political group Pope Francis ticks off during Thursday's speech at the Capitol.

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