Friday, February 17, 2012

HHS Protest: "What’s going to be next? Will it be freedom of the press?"

That's the question Dolores Meehan asked an ABC reporter who had asked Dolores why she was protesting Obama's unconscionable and unconstitutional HHS mandate. We contributed to this story, published in this morning's California Catholic Daily:

Singing hymns, praying the rosary and waving Vatican flagsCatholics protest President Obama’s contraception mandate during his visit to San Francisco

Around 150 Catholics prayed the rosary, sang the Ave Maria and We Shall Overcome, waved Vatican flags, and stood for religious freedom and the Constitution in San Francisco last night, a city that cast more than 85% of its votes for President Obama in 2008. One young man climbed a tree and waved an American flag surmounted by a banner of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

The impromptu protest came with only three days advance notice that President Obama would be in the city for a campaign fundraising event. Earlier Thursday, the president attended a $35,800 per plate dinner in Pacific Heights, the city’s “Billionaire’s Row.” The San Francisco event was a more modest $100 per person affair at the Masonic Auditorium atop Nob Hill.

Catholics -- and others – gathered across the street to protest the recently announced Obama Administration’s HHS contraception mandate, which has drawn nearly universal protest from U.S. bishops.

No bishops were able to attend the protest because all the bishops of the San Francisco province, which includes the dioceses of San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Rosa, Stockton, Sacramento, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Hawaii, were on a retreat together this week.

Oakland Bishop Salvatore Cordileone sent a message of support, and assured organizers he would have been there, had it been possible.

Among the Catholic leaders who participated in the protest were Dominican Fr. Anselm Ramelow, chairman of the Philosophy Department at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology in Berkeley; Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, editor of San Francisco-based Ignatius Press; and Fr. Peter Carota, who led a group of parishioners all the way from St. Patrick’s Church in Ripon. Fr. Carota said he had heard about the rally in California Catholic Daily.

Dolores Meehan and Eva Muntean, co-founders of the Walk for Life West Coast, were also there. Many members of the Walk for Life volunteer team joined them. A number of 40 Days for Life volunteers were there too.

Also participating was Protestant Pastor Walter Hoye, well known in California pro-life circles for being unjustly imprisoned for violating Oakland’s abortion clinic “bubble ordinance” -- a conviction later overturned on appeal.

All the local affiliates of the major TV networks were also there. Many protestors were interviewed for both radio and television, including Pastor Hoye, Meehan and Muntean. Fr. Carota was interviewed by the Spanish-language TV network Univision, though little, at least thus far, has been broadcast.

All expressed outrage. In one segment that aired on ABC7News, Meehan responded to a reporter’s question by asking the reporter a question of her own: “Freedom of religion is the flavor of the day for him today, but what’s going to be next? Will it be freedom of the press? Are you going to be able to be out here and say what you want to say?”

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