REPORTS ON YESTERDAYS RELIGIOUS FREEDOM RALLIES
Reports on Religious Freedom Rallies
BCI believes public action to protest the government intrusion our religious freedom are important, and we are pleased to share a few reports with you on how the Boston rallies went. These rallies took place in 160 cities across the U.S. on June 8, including on Capital Hill in Washington, DC.
On Cardinal Sean’s blog, he reports on the June 8 rally on Boston Common:
The rally was part of the nationwide effort to Stand Up For Religious Freedom. In March, 145 cities including Boston each held rallies. Even more cities participated this time including other local rallies in Worcester and Leominster.
Janet Benestad who is our cabinet secretary for faith formation and evangelization was representing me at the event and was one of the speakers, together with Father Tad Pacholczyk and Sister Olga Yaqob. Scot Landry and George Martell also represented the Archdiocese of Boston at today’s Boston rally.
Other speakers included former Ambassador to the Vatican and Mayor of Boston Raymond Flynn, Kris Mineau from the Massachusetts Family Institute, young adult Ann-Marie Warner, Herald columnist Don Feder, and Alexis Walkenstein from the Maximus Group. We appreciate the more than 300 attendees who took a stand today in support of religious freedom on the Common.
These rallies confirm how anxious people are to begin to underscore the importance of religious freedom which is being threatened in so many different venues but particularly with this mandate that redefines Catholic institutions as those that serve exclusively Catholics or are entirely staffed and run by Catholics, in this way eliminating from that category many of our schools, hospitals and other social agencies like Catholic Charities.
The U.S. Bishops recently announced the “Fortnight for Freedom” initiative which will take place from June 21 through July 4. This special period of prayer, study, catechesis and public action will emphasize both our Christian and American heritage of liberty. Dioceses and parishes across the country have scheduled special events that support a great national campaign of teaching and witness for religious liberty. One of the most significant ways we are marking the Fortnight in the Archdiocese of Boston is by holding an interactive live town hall meeting on Monday June 25 at 8pm on CatholicTV, http://www.CatholicTV.com, and 1060AM WQOM. We will have some short presentations regarding the issues and what is at stake and then we will take questions from the studio audience and from the viewers who can submit questions via Facebook, Twitter and Email. Please mark your calendars, join us and perhaps submit a question.
This is a nice report about the rally after the fact.It is unfortunate that more was not done by the archdiocese and Mass Catholic Conference to promote the rally before the event, since this issue should be of great importance for every one of the 300,000+ Mass-going Catholics in the Boston Archdiocese. In addition to the Boston rally, there was one in West Roxbury too. Lou reports here that the evening rally in West Roxbury drew nearly 150 people.
The Pilot has an article about the upcoming June 25 town hall meeting as well:
Angela Franks, who teaches at the Theological Institute for the New Evangelization, plans to appear as a panelist on the town hall meeting program. She said she is eager to defend the faith at the town hall meeting that will be broadcast nationally.
“It is important that the message be sent to congress and to the president that this is not an isolated case of a few people protesting, but that all Catholics all across the country recognize that this is a grave threat to the fundamental freedom of religious liberty,” she said.
She said it is important to present a unified voice between communities of Catholics in the United States throughout a network of local groups to dispel misconceptions.
“The mainstream media has tried to imply that the bishops do not have broad support, that this is a war against women, and that women are not supporting the Church and her position on this. So, it is very important for local Catholics to demonstrate that they do stand with the Church,” Franks said.
BCI suggests all readers take part in the town hall meeting and take advantage of this time to submit your questions to Cardinal O’Malleyl. Ironically, the town hall meeting with Cardinal O’Malley is on the same day when President Obama is in Boston for a series of campaign fundraisers, including one for $40,000/person at the home of Catholic Schools fundraiser and Finance Council members, Jack Connors Jr. (not exactly the presenting of a “unified voice” among Catholics, but that is a topic for another post).
Have a wonderful weekend!
Friday rally at federal courthouse draws crowd in protest of Affordable Care Act
By Rick Spruill
THE CORPUS CHRISTI CALLER-TIMES
Posted June 8, 2012 at 5:52 p.m., updated June 8, 2012 at 6:11 p.m.
Freedom of Religion Rally
CORPUS CHRISTI — Whether Catholic or Baptist, Republican or Democrat, all who gathered in front of the federal courthouse Friday were, for about an hour, protestants.
About 150 people, including nuns, priests and pastors, held signs and protested certain mandates of the Affordable Care Act as a threat to religious freedom by forcing religious organizations to give employees access to contraceptive services as part of its Health and Human Services mandate.
With the U.S. Supreme Court expected to rule on the constitutionality of the act by summer’s end and the presidential election heating up, groups are amping up the rhetoric to ensure their voices are heard no matter what comes out of the court.
There were about 160 protests coordinated to kick off at noon Friday, including those organized by the Pro-Life Action League, a national anti-abortion group, and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.
The Affordable Care Act of 2010, touted as Obamacare by opponents, has faced legal and constitutional scrutiny because it requires individuals by 2014 to buy health care or pay a penalty. It also requires employers to provide insurance to employees, sometimes referred to as the “other mandate.”
Supporters of the act have championed it as bridging the health care gap by removing barriers for those with pre-existing conditions and reducing costs to individuals and small businesses through a system of rebates and tax credits.
Several speakers took to the podium Friday to decry what each in their own way said are the dangers of any law that trumps individual religious liberty in the name of public health in an event that was one part prayer meeting, one part protest and one part civics lesson.
René Henry Gracida, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, said that Christians increasingly are marginalized by governmental agencies acting with the support of liberal judges.
“All of these organs of government are riddled with activists who are determined to circumscribe — to limit — the freedom of religion in the United States,” Gracida said.
He compared the situation to the plight of European Jews in the early years of the German Third Reich.
“The Jewish people never dreamed that things would come to the pass that they eventually did under Adolf Hitler,” he said. “If the Jewish people, as strong and powerful as they were in Germany, had stood up and been counted in opposition to the brown shirts and the national socialist party, Adolf Hitler never would have won that election.”
He said with Hitler’s rise came an era of oppression, repression and death.
Mary Ann Kelly’s “Vote the Bible” button, pinned as it was just above her necklace of medallions featuring Catholic saints, said the button represents her civic responsibility while the necklace represents her deepest convictions.She stood with her friend, Louis Hoelscher, holding a sign that said the health and human services mandate is about religious freedom, on one side, with a reminder that the November elections are just around the corner, on the other.
Kelly said that, while her sense of patriotism led her to paint the sign, her religious convictions led her to stand across from the courthouse, holding it up for passing motorists to see.
“The mandate is not about the government in its benevolence making sure people use contraception and that the public stays healthy,” Hoelscher said. “It’s about an infringement on our First Amendment rights and religious freedom.”