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Rallies planned Friday in diocese

Posted By June 1, 2012 | 1:16 pm | Lead Story #1
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Stephen A. Perla, former mayor of Leominster, has agreed to take part in the Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally at noon Friday, June 8,  in Carter Park, Leominster, according to Linda Kinsey of St. Anna Parish, an organizer.
Mr. Perla has been the director of the University of Notre Dames Alliance for Catholic Education Consulting Initiative since June 2008. Before that he was superintendent of  diocesan Catholic schools and, for 10 years, executive director of Parents Alliance for Catholic Education, a Massachusetts group which advocates on behalf of students and Catholic schools.
Father Thien K. Nguyen, associate pastor of St. Leo’s Parish, also is scheduled to speak.
The rally, along with the noon rally at City Hall Plaza in Worcester, and rallies in more than 140 other cities and towns in the country, was organized to oppose the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, and the Health and Human Services mandate which organizers say “forces all employers, including Catholic schools and hospitals, to provide free contraceptives, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, regardless of religious or moral convictions.”
The following speakers are scheduled at the Worcester rally:
Allison LeDoux, diocesan director of the Office ofMarriage and Family, representing the diocese; Msgr. Anthony S. Czernecki, pastor of St. Joseph Basilica Parish in Webster and a native of Poland, who will talk about living in a country without religious liberty; Atty. Robert Amorello of Worcester, who will explain religious freedom under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution; Father Richard F. Reidy, pastor of St. Ann’s Church in North Oxford, who will speak on the impact of the HHS mandate  on the Church, and Vic Melfa, CEO and co-founder of Training Associates of Westborough, who will address the effect of the HHS mandate on  small businessmen, who would have to commit a mortal sin  to  comply with the law.
There also will be postcards available for those who wish to write members of their congressional delegation to stop the HHS mandate, Miss Kucharski said. There also is a website, http://standupforreligiousfreedom.net/ma_rally_locations/worcester
In Leominster, Father Thien X. Nguyen, associate pastor of St. Leo Parish and a native of Vietnam, will talk about living in a country without religious liberty.
More than 140 other cities and towns from Maine to Hawaii are participating in this national event, according to the website, www.standupforreligiousfreedom.com.
The rally comes as the United States Supreme Court prepares to rule on the constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act, which is expected at the end of June.
The HHS mandate “forces all employers including Catholic schools and hospitals to provide free contraceptives, surgical sterilizations and abortion-inducing drugs through their health plans, regardless of religious or moral convictions,” the press release states.
The rally is also a prelude to the Bishops’ Fortnight for Freedom which will take place June 21 to July 4 as a 14-day period of prayer, education, and action in support of religious freedom.
“If Obamacare is ruled unconstitutional, we must ensure that religious freedom will be protected in subsequent health care legislation,” Miss Kucharski said. “But if Obamacare is not struck down, we’ll be sending the federal government a clear message that the faith-based institutions and private businesses affected by the HHS mandate here in our diocese will not violate their consciences by complying with it.”
Bishop McManus wrote, in a letter to the diocese published in the Feb. 3 edition of The Catholic Free Press, “We cannot and we will not comply with this unjust law. People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”
Miss Kucharski said that the Stand Up rally has nothing to do with access to contraception. “There is no ‘war on contraception’ in our country. Contraception is already widely, cheaply available. What’s really under attack today is religious freedom,” she said.