The Syracuse Roman Catholic Diocese has launched what it calls a "Fortnight for Freedom." It's part of an ongoing battle over a federal mandate that the church says violates its teachings. But YNN's Bill Carey says that while church leaders have launched their protest against Washington, they're facing some protests of their own.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- To Bishop Robert Cunningham, there is little room for debate. This, he says, is a matter of conscience. His church stands against the use of contraception.
Cunningham sad, “We believe that acts of married love should be open to the creation of new life. That loving couples should cooperate with God in the creation of new life. And anything that impedes that action we would be opposed to.”
In the name of the father, the son and the Holy Spirit.
The Bishop and the faithful celebrating Mass and delivering a message that to force the church to provide insurance coverage for contraception at any of its facilities, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, social service agencies, would be wrong.
“Our culture is moving from being a God-fearing nation to becoming a God-less nation. And this is a very fundamental. It's a tipping point for all people of faith. Not just Roman Catholics,” Harvey Simmons said.
The Bishops have tried to frame this as an argument over religious freedom. That any government order would force them and other Catholics to go against the teachings of their own church.
But as the Bishop prayed inside, other Catholics gathered outside the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception. They argued that Cunningham and other church leaders do not speak for them. That they support use of contraception and feel its long past due that the church offer needed coverage to its workers.
“Faithful Catholics. We want to be able to celebrate our beautiful liturgy. To believe in the gospels. And somehow, the Bishops seem to say we can't do that unless we do it their way. That's just not going to work anymore,” protester Rachel Guido DeVries said.
The protesters say the vast majority of Catholics in the United States no longer support the church stand on birth control. Their voices, they argue, will eventually be heard.
“Change always comes from the margins, from the bottom. That's how the Church has existed for 2,000 years. So we're just in line with the tradition,” said Rev. Fred Daley, the All Saints Church Pastor.
“There will always be those who follow and there will be some who walk away because the teaching is hard. But I think we still need to defend and to teach and to proclaim what we believe the true teaching of the church is,” Cunningham said.
The debate between church and state may eventually be resolved. The debate within the church will likely go on.
The Thursday mass launching the "Fortnight for Freedom" drive marks the beginning of two weeks of events planned by the Syracuse Diocese to drive home its religious freedom argument. The campaign will end on the 4th of July.