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Catholic Online iReport - Allentown, PA rallies for Religious Freedom

By Carolee Gifford (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
March 26th, 2012
Catholic Online (

"It's terrible! It has to be rescinded!" said Sister Josanne Huber, M.S.C., commenting on the healthcare mandate thousands and thousands protested at noon, Friday, at federal buildings all over the United States.

Fountain Hill, PA (Catholic Online) - One of those protests took place at the Federal Courthouse in Allentown, Pennsylvania.  The sidewalk in front of the courthouse was chock full of people.  Protesters brought a peaceful enthusiasm to their cause.

Many different faiths joined together to sing, pray and chant, a unified, "No." to what is seen as a government intrusion on conscience.

Sister Josanne represented Sacred Heart Hospital in Allentown.  Sacred Heart would be one of many institutions affected by the mandate. She is a chaplain at the 233-bed Catholic medical center started 100 years ago by her community, the Missionary Sisters of the Sacred Heart.

"We cannot, we will not comply with this mandate," said The Rev. Scott Ardinger, M.A., S.T.L., pastor of The Incarnation of our Lord Church, Bethlehem, Pa.  Father Ardinger was echoing his bishop, The most Rev. John O. Barres,  in his letter to the faithful.

"I love being an American," said Father Ardinger. "People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens!"

I am so proud of our bishops," Father Ardinger continued, extolling the unified decry against the health care mandate.  "These are our shepherds!"

The crowd roared in support of Father Ardinger's sentiments.

"Such a contentious and insensitive ruling by this administration reflects a grievous disregard for our individual rights so clearly defined in our Constitution and a display of arrogance that should
sound an alarm to all Americans, regardless of party, to denounce such action," said Tom McFadden, a member of the Lehigh Valley Tea Party executive board.Karin Walleasa, a pro-life advocate,  spearheaded the rally in Allentown. 

Catholics at the rally were joined by people of many faiths.

"I'm a Protestant," Carol Allen of Macungie, PA, proudly exclaimed. "I am concerned about my country," Allen said when asked why she had joined the protest.

"We have a very pro-life parish," said The Rev. Vince Gioieni, pastoral intern at Holy Cross Lutheran Church, Bethlehem.  Rev. Gioieni offered the opening and closing prayer at the rally.

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