Californians rally against contraception mandate

By Gibbons J. Cooney
Special to California Catholic Daily

Hundreds of Californians joined their counterparts at more than 140 locations nationwide on Friday, March 23, at “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies held to protest the Obama Administration’s contraception mandate. Across the country, more than 50,000 people participated in the protests.

In San Francisco, the rally was held in the city’s Federal Building Plaza. By 11:15 a.m., 100 people had already gathered in anticipation of the noontime rally. By 11:30, the number had swelled to 200. By noon the plaza was about two-thirds full, with a crowd estimated at between 500 to 1000 people. 

The crowd included priests, nuns, religious brothers, as well as at least 50 children, from stroller age to high schoolers in Catholic school uniforms.

Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone was among the speakers at the San Francisco rally. He described the HHS mandate not as a Catholic or Christian issue, nor as one affecting just people of faith, but as an issue that affects all Americans.

The bishop related a conversation he had with his mother about the mandate. She told him, “This (religious freedom) is what the pilgrims came to this country for!”

“If my 85 year-old mother, who never went to college, can understand this, why is it so hard for our elected officials?” asked Bishop Cordileone.

“How dare the government define for us what constitutes our religious faith,” he said. “Get the government out of our church!”

George Wesolek, director of Public Policy and spokesman for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, began by describing an order of religious sisters who came to San Francisco in the late 1800s. He recalled that they founded orphanages, began institutions to minister to the sick, and schools to educate the young. He then observed that, according to the mandate, those activities would no longer be considered religious expression.

“That is not a religious expression? Unbelievable!” he said.

As Wesolek enumerated the objections to the mandate, he paused at the end of each statement as the crowd shouted with him, “Unbelievable!”

“Mr. Obama, let Christians practice their faith as they see fit… we will not be confined to the churches,” Wesolek said in closing. “That is not our mission!”

Even the normally soft-spoken Bill May, president of Catholics for the Common Good, led the crowd in a chant. He related how medical schools, because of legalized abortion, have removed the section of the Hippocratic Oath that says, “First, do no harm.”

“This (the mandate) causes harm… don’t force us to do harm!” May said.

To each of May’s statements the crowd responded, “We will not do harm!”

Dolores Meehan, co-founder of the Walk for Life West Coast, began by saying, “I’m here with my rosary, and I’m here with my ovaries, and I’m here to tell you I’m not leaving either of them at home!”

“Women will not be used to further your agenda… Mr. Obama, what women need is for you to uphold your oath of office,” Meehan continued. “What women need is for you to abide by the constitution. And then you know what? We’ll be able to take care of ourselves.”

“You (President Obama) are trying to take our basic rights away by executive order,” said Meehan. “Well, come and get us. Game on. Send you National Guard to close down our primary schools, our clinics, our hospitals, our universities. The answer is a simple: No! No man in the White House, no man in the Kremlin, no Chairman Mao, no Fidel Castro, no Barack Obama can take these rights away.”

Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, of Ignatius Press, was the final speaker. He told the crowd that, when Obama was elected, “some people thought they were voting for a Messiah.”

“Last month, he performed a true miracle,” Fr. Fessio said. “He united all of the Catholic bishops in the U.S.”

Six or seven protestors attempted to disrupt the rally, but the SFPD and the Department of Homeland Security moved them to the margins of the rally. The protesters began the old “Not the church, not the state…” chant, but were drowned out by rally participants singing the Ave Maria.

Five hundred miles to the south, San Diego Coadjutor Bishop Cirilo Flores was among the speakers at a similar rally outside the San Diego County Administration Building.

News accounts said the San Diego rally drew “hundreds of demonstrators,” but no specific tally was given.

Participants at the San Diego carried various signs and placards, with slogans like “Stop bigotry against Christians,” “My conscience belongs to God not the government,” Respect My Religious Freedom,” “Religious Freedom Is Our Right,” and “Protect Our First Amendment-Religious Freedom.”

“Thousands and thousands of Catholics and non-Catholics, people of faith and of no faith, have gathered to express opposition to the government trying to define religion,” Bishop Flores told KGTV-Channel 10 News, the local ABC affiliate.

Elsewhere in California, “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rallies were held in Sacramento, Los Angeles, Ventura, Redding and Temecula.


Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 12:45 AM By Colleen Barry
Thank you California.Religious Institutions and HC have always complemented each other. Everything, concerning these institutions and HC has always and continues to work fine. WHY DOES THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION HAVE TO ATTACK Religious Institutions. Everyone NOW criticizing Religious Institutions didn’t write, articles or even talk about religious institutions have a bad affect on our countries HC, It is the Obama Administration that was created this issue. NEVER was an issue. I say continue the Status Quo on our Religious Institutions connections to HC

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 5:37 AM By Sandra
I was proud to be out there last Friday with my Husband who took the day off from work–because our religious freedom is more important than any paycheck. Everyone who cares about the beautiful Constitution of our land and the freedoms that it affords, better get off your butts and start joining this effort–or you will soon wake up one morning and say “what happen to my beautiful Land of the Free?”

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 7:21 AM By markrite
Well, King Barack the 1st has spoken (by executive order) and comrades, it’s very apparent: WE MUST COMPLY! to not comply would be tantamount to treason to “the one” who calms the waves, heals the planet, ad nauseum, et baloney. C’mon, sheeple, it’s WAY PAST TIME to get rid of this incipient tyrant, Hussein Obummer, either through the ballot box or, my preference, IMPEACHMENT. For hasn’t he committed MANY impeachable offenses by now, in his first 4 year reign? think “FAST & FURIOUS,” or UNCONSTITUTIONAL ACTIONS in LIBYA, OR THE USURPING OF, AS NOW, the RIGHTS OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH to practice its faith without interference from the LEVIATHAN STATE? Seems to be he should be a GONER by now vis-a-vis his actions as an ichoate dictator and the restrictons of the U.S. Constitution. And that’s not even taking into account his UNBELIEVABLE FEROCITY in warring on the PREBORN. Please join me in a chorus of DOWN WITH OBAMA! DOWN WITH OBAMA! GOD BLESS ALL, MARKRITE

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 7:48 AM By Fed-Up
What happened to the usual, pushy mantra of “Separation of Church and State”, in THIS case? The silence has been deafening from those secular/liberal/pro-aborts who usually “insist” upon it! I hear it too often, where it’s UNnecessary. Now, when we need it most of all, in this case of religious freedoms and liberties, what happened?

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 7:55 AM By JLS
Dept of Homeland Security? This whole federal govt bureaucracy needs to be pink slipped asap.

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 7:57 AM By JMJ
The public schools has been doing Obama a great favor by not teaching the kids of today about how Hitler took over Germany and now, how Obama is doing the exact same thing in what used to be America, and now can be called Obamaca. We need to stop the evil of Obama, OBAMANISM and his Obamacare (along with Romneycare here in Mass.). With all of the handouts given to our parents/grandparents by Roosevelt we now have become dependant on the government to supply our needs, instead of us working for them. The USCCB should also be hanging their heads down in shame for allowing the Catholics to live against the teachings of the one and only Holy Church of Jesus without correcting them. Some of these Cardinals may write some wonderful books, but, who would want to read them, never mind buying them, until they, themselves become Men of God and not wimps of the so-called ‘catholic’ democrats that are destroying this nation that God has Blessed so very much. +JMJ+

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 8:13 AM By JLS
Let me reiterate: What was the federal government’s Department of Homeland Security doing at the rally? Is the federal govt afraid of the ghosts of fifty million aborted human beings? Maybe in the future the federal govt will set up screening terminals for all people attending rallies.

Posted Monday, March 26, 2012 8:50 AM By grampsc
Where was the SF Archbishop?