Stand Up for Religious Freedom in Va. Beach: Thousands Gather Across U.S.A.
priests like Fr John Abe; the pastor of St Matthews Parish in Virginia Beach. He eloquently represented portions of the Letter entitled "Our First, Most Cherished Liberty" issued by the United States Catholic Bishops - and added his own of explanation and affirmation at the end.
I stood with Fr. Dan Beeman; the Pastor of Holy Trinity Church in Norfolk, Virginia, who is an advisor to Catholic Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo. Fr Beeman gave one of the most inspiring summaries of the Catholic experience in America and told the cheering crowd that we will not back down and we will not comply with this unjust mandate. That crowd included Catholic priests, deacons and lay men and women, as well as many others, who responded enthusiastically to this good priest.
I stood with evangelical protestant Christians who also eloquently stood in defense of the First Freedom. Leaders such as Bishop Earl W Jackson, a candidate for the United States Senate in Virginia, who is both a Harvard Law and Harvard Divinity graduate. "E.W." Jackson is one of the most inspiring speakers I have ever heard. The response of the crowd confirmed I was not alone in my assessment of this gifted man.
I stood with Ryan Bomberger, the co-founder and chief creative officer of Radiance Foundation.Ryan is one of the most creative and courageous younger voices defending the dignity of every human person, including our first neighbors in the womb. His own extraordinary story underscores his heroic and uncompromising defense of every human life.
There were several more wonderful speakers but I will only mention two in this article. Perhaps I can return to the others in future writing. I must mention Rachel Francis, a rising sophomore at Benedictine College in Kansas, one of a growing number of new and renewed dynamically Catholic Colleges and Universities preparing our future leaders for the Church and the world into which she is sent. Rachel was extraordinary and gave me immense hope for our future.
Finally, I must mention Georgie Marquez. Her stories of members from her own family who experienced the Christero wars in Mexico, fought over religious freedom and featured in the extraordinary film, For Greater Glory, moved the entire crowd to shout "Viva Cristo Rey" and reflect upon the importance of our efforts.
There is a silver lining in the dark cloud threatening the First Freedom in the United States. This HHS Edict has given rise to a religious freedom movement which holds great promise for the future of our Nation and the free world. It has prompted a new and promising alliance. We have found one another and we are standing together in solidarity and citizen action.
We are exercising our other fundamental other constitutional rights such as the Rights to Free Speech, Free Association and Free Assembly - and the Right to Petition our Government for a Redress of grievances. We are serving notice on this Administration that the fundamental human right to the first freedom, Religious Freedom, cannot and will not be taken away. We will prevail because our cause is just and serves the true common good.
- - -
Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Religious freedom, religious Liberty, Stand Up for Religious Freedom, Fr Dan Beeman, Fr John Abe, Ryan Bromberg, Benedictine College, For Greater Glory, Deacon Keith Fournier
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