Catholic Transcript Magazine of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Hartford Connecticut

Thursday, February 22, 2018

rally-take2 3003Peter Wolfgang, executive director of the Family Institute of Connecticut, addresses the crowd on the New Haven Green. (Photo by Mary Chalupsky)

NEW HAVEN – Taking a stand for religious freedom, more than 500 Catholics and others from Connecticut and beyond rallied on the New Haven Green June 8 to oppose proposed federal legislation that would violate constitutional rights to religious liberty.

The "Stand Up for Religious Freedom" rally was held simultaneously with similar demonstrations in about 150 cities nationwide to protest a federal mandate requiring all employer health plans to provide free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections.

Speaking on behalf of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza said that the theme of religious liberty has been highlighted by the nation’s bishops ever since the United States Department of Health and Human Services mandated health care coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients last January.

Bishop Rosazza explained that the O NEW HAVEN – Taking a stand for religious freedom, more than 500 Catholics and others from Connecticut and beyond rallied on the New Haven Green June 8 to oppose proposed federal legislation that would violate constitutional rights to religious liberty.

The "Stand Up for Religious Freedom" rally was held simultaneously with similar demonstrations in about 150 cities nationwide to protest a federal mandate requiring all employer health plans to provide free contraceptives, sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs, regardless of any moral or religious objections.

Speaking on behalf of Archbishop Henry J. Mansell, Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus Peter A. Rosazza said that the theme of religious liberty has been highlighted by the nation’s bishops ever since the United States Department of Health and Human Services mandated health care coverage for contraceptives, sterilizations and abortifacients last January.

Bishop Rosazza explained that the Obama administration attempted to find a solution by ordering insurance companies and not the Church to pay. However, he noted that because many programs are self-insured, the Church would end up funding these services, anyway.

"Even though our American tradition supports religious freedom, we believe it is necessary at this time to warn our fellow Catholics and other Americans that religious freedom appears to be under attack both at home and abroad," he said.

Even Pope Benedict XVI, he noted, in response to concerns voiced by American bishops, spoke about "a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

The pope, he said, called for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity and others to "counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."

Getting to the core of the debate, Bishop Rosazza told the crowd that it is a matter of whether the government can force religious people and institutions to violate their religious beliefs.

"That’s the bottom line," he said. "Since offering these services is against our norms, then forcing us to do so violates our religious freedom."

Bishop Rosazza said the HHS mandate and other infringements on religious freedom bring up the question of whether religious institutions will be able to function in society at large "according to their traditions."

He announced that the U.S. bishops had called for a "Fortnight bama administration attempted to find a solution by ordering insurance companies and not the Church to pay. However, he noted that because many programs are self-insured, the Church would end up funding these services, anyway.

"Even though our American tradition supports religious freedom, we believe it is necessary at this time to warn our fellow Catholics and other Americans that religious freedom appears to be under attack both at home and abroad," he said.

Even Pope Benedict XVI, he noted, in response to concerns voiced by American bishops, spoke about "a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

The pope, he said, called for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity and others to "counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society."Getting to the core of the debate, Bishop Rosazza told the crowd that it is a matter of whether the government can force religious people and institutions to violate their religious beliefs.

"That’s the bottom line," he said. "Since offering these services is against our norms, then forcing us to do so violates our religious freedom."

Bishop Rosazza said the HHS mandate and other infringements on religious freedom bring up the question of whether religious institutions will be able to function in society at large "according to their traditions."

He announced that the U.S. bishops had called for a "Fortnight bama administration attempted to find a solution by ordering insurance companies and not the Church to pay. However, he noted that because many programs are self-insured, the Church would end up funding these services, anyway.

"Even though our American tradition supports religious freedom, we believe it is necessary at this time to warn our fellow Catholics and other Americans that religious freedom appears to be under attack both at home and abroad," he said.

Even Pope Benedict XVI, he noted, in response to concerns voiced by American bishops, spoke about "a worrying tendency to reduce religious freedom to mere freedom of worship without guarantees of respect for freedom of conscience."

The pope, he said, called for an engaged, articulate and well-formed Catholic laity and others to "counter a reductive secularism which would delegitimize the Church’s participation in public debate about the issues which are determining the future of American society." Getting to the core of the debate, Bishop Rosazza told the crowd that it is a matter of whether the government can force religious people and institutions to violate their religious beliefs.

"That’s the bottom line," he said. "Since offering these services is against our norms, then forcing us to do so violates our religious freedom."

Bishop Rosazza said the HHS mandate and other infringements on religious freedom bring up the question of whether religious institutions will be able to function in society at large "according to their traditions."

He announced that the U.S. bishops had called for a "Fortnight for for Freedom" prayer and education campaign, from June 21 to July 4, "for a new birth of freedom in our beloved country."

Other speakers included Bishop Terry Wiles, senior pastor of Crossroads Community Cathedral of East Hartford; Father Robert J. Rousseau, director of Pro-Life Activities for the Archdiocese of Hartford; Nicole Peck, regional coordinator of the Silent No More anti-abortion campaign; and Melkite Greek Catholic Deacon Thomas R. Davis Jr.

The event, the second such nationwide rally since March, was sponsored by the Family Institute of Connecticut (FIC).

With an eye toward the United States Supreme Court’s expected ruling on June 28 on the health care act, Peter Wolfgang, FIC executive director, said the effort would go on depending on the ruling.

"This affects the First Amendment rights of all of us," said Mr. Wolfgang.

If the Supreme Court were to support the constitutionality of the health care act, he said, rally organizers would continue mobilizing citizens to oppose measures that infringe on religious freedom.

Among those supporting the rally was Connie Irwin of East Hartland, who said, "I have a large family and it’s important for my children to see how the government is not letting us live our lives."