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Catholic Voice
June 25, 2012   •   VOL. 50, NO. 11   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
East Bay native to be ordained
June 29

Casa Vincentia, diocese
settle building issue

Eventful jubilee year comes
to a close
Rally for religious freedom
draws enthusiastic crowd
The Rev. Walter Hoye, director of the California Civil Rights Foundation, helped organize the June 8 rally.
Michele Jurich photo

A flag-waving, sign-carrying crowd of about 500 people cheered as more than a dozen speakers, quoting, among others, Thomas Jefferson and St. Gaspar del Bufalo, took to the microphone for a 90-minute Stand Up For Religious Freedom Rally in San Francisco on June 8. The rally, at the federal building on Seventh Street, was one of dozens of gatherings nationwide to draw attention to opposition to the Health and Human Services mandate.

Organized by the California Civil Rights Foundation, directed by Rev. Walter Hoye of Union City, it was the second rally for religious freedom in the last three months in San Francisco. Rev. Hoye said he was planning a third rally closer to November. Details of upcoming events would be posted at www.civilrightsfoundation.org, he said.

Among the speakers at the June 8 rally were Rev. Jeffrey Keyes, CPPS, pastor of St. Edward Church in Newark, and Rev. Joseph Illo, pastor of St. Joseph Church in Modesto. Victoria Evans, Respect Life coordinator for the Archdiocese of San Francisco, was also among the speakers, who included pastors of other Christian denominations, attorneys, politicians, authors and activists.

Two busloads of parishioners from St. Edward Parish attended the rally, including some who assisted Father Keyes during his talk, by holding up a sign inscribed with words of St. Gaspar de Bufalo, founder of his order, the Society of Precious Blood.

Father Keyes told of young Gaspar, who, two centuries ago, was asked to swear allegiance to Napoleon. When Gaspar had been asked by his prefect to do the politically expedient, but morally wrong, Gaspar replied: I cannot. I must not. I will not.

The crowd repeated the chant several times during Father Keyes' speech and St. Gaspar's words were also repeated at the end of the rally,

Contingents from St. Joseph Parish in Pinole and Immaculate Heart of Mary Church in Brentwood, which had been represented at the March rally, were in attendance again.

Get involved
Go to the website, www.usccb.org and click on "religious freedom"

Read "Forming Consciences
for Faithful Citizenship" at www.faithfulcitizenship.org

Participate in the "fortnight for freedom" June 21-July 4 — watch your parish bulletin and listen to your parish priests for local activities.

Go to the Diocese of Oakland site, www.oakdiocese.org

Cathy Tomutsa, who with her husband Liviu directs the Respect Life ministry at the Pinole parish, stood with her St. Joseph banner. Her group meets weekly outside a Richmond area Planned Parenthood office. "I like to be there just to say the rosary," she said. "That's when they do abortions."

A group of parishioners from St. Joseph in Modesto came to the rally at which their pastor was speaking.

Parishioner Cameron Menezes praised Father Illo and pastors like him, who, he said, "remind you what your Catholic conscience should tell you."

In his speech, Father Illo recounted a recent visit to the Liberty Bell in Philadelphia with his elderly mother. "She had never seen that icon of American freedom," he said. They read the inscription on it: Proclaim liberty through all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof. "That is a quote from the Bible. It says on the bell Leviticus 25," he said.

"The message on the Liberty Bell is clear enough," he said. "God, not man, is the foundation of human liberty. If we attempt to build a social order apart from the law of God, we lose our freedom. Everyone loses."

The debate over religious freedom, Evans told the crowd, is not about access to contraception and health care, and it's not about the freedom of only Catholics. It is about, she said, "the federal government forcing Church institutions to act against their own teachings."

"It's about an unwarranted, narrow and unprecedented definition of religion," she said. "Government has no business defining religion or religious ministry."

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