Catholics convey strong messages during DNC in Charlotte
Diocese posts two banners at St. Peter Church that will be visible during Sept. 3-6 convention
CHARLOTTE — Mere steps away from the site of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Charlotte has posted two larger-than-life messages about the sanctity of life, marriage and religious liberty – proclaiming the teaching of the universal Church to the thousands of party delegates, visitors and the national media who will descend on Charlotte.
The diocese has suspended two banners on property at St. Peter Catholic Church on South Tryon Street: one on St. Peter's administrative building and another on a large brick wall adjoining the church.
A six-foot by 10-foot banner will hang from St. Peter's administrative building, stating: "A Message from the Catholic Church: Religious Liberty, The Soul of Democracy." This building looks out over The Green between South Tryon and College streets.
A six-foot by 27-foot banner will be posted on a large brick wall behind the church, and will read: "A Message from the Catholic Church: Protect the Unborn, Defend Marriage, Safeguard Religious Liberty."
This wall faces an area designated as The Legacy Village, where Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx will host special guests during the convention to highlight community efforts to support Foxx's Legacy Projects. Some of the topics that will be discussed in programs there will address children, families, youth employment, civic education, the economy, energy, technology and sustainability.
These very visible banners are meant to provoke dialogue and encourage evangelization, diocesan officials said, during a time when the national spotlight will shine on Charlotte like never before – and where attention will especially be drawn near St. Peter Church, the oldest Catholic church in the diocese and located in the heart of the convention area.
The banner conveying the value of religious liberty in our democracy was prompted by the controversial ruling from the Obama administration to require nearly all employers to provide free contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans, despite their religious objections. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act's "HHS mandate," as it has come to be known, would apply to both the Diocese of Charlotte and its ministries and programs, as well as nearby Belmont Abbey College, even though the Church teaches that artificial contraception and abortion are intrinsically evil. If it is not changed by congressional action or overturned by the courts, this mandate will force Catholic employers, religious organizations, hospitals, schools, dioceses and charitable ministries to fund these services in violation of Church teaching or face severe fines. Catholics across the country, led by the U.S. bishops, have voiced strong opposition to the HHS mandate and advocated for fixes in the Affordable Care Act.
The second banner that the diocese is displaying stresses the Church's continued fight to end abortion, which since it was legalized in 1973 has resulted in the quiet death of more than 54 million unborn children. It also addresses the battles that the Church and all people of goodwill have faced in light of the Obama administration's failure to uphold marriage as God created it – the union between one man and one woman – as well as the Democratic Party's recent move to add support for same-sex "marriage" in its platform. In North Carolina that battle was recently waged – and won, for now – during a statewide constitutional amendment ballot in which 61 percent of N.C. voters approved protecting the traditional definition of marriage.
Careful planning went into the initiative, diocesan officials said, and the wording of the banners was thoughtfully selected. The banners meet all of the City of Charlotte's sign ordinances, and were erected Saturday, Aug. 25, in order to be visible throughout the duration of the Democratic National Convention and related events that get under way next week.
Bishop Peter J. Jugis of the Diocese of Charlotte was personally involved in the planning for the banners, along with diocesan Respect Life Director Maggi Nadol, diocesan spokesman David Hains and St. Peter's pastor, Jesuit Father Pat Earl.
"This is a wonderful opportunity for evangelization," Bishop Jugis said.
Nadol said she is excited about the banners and what impact they might have on visitors to Charlotte.
"The ability to express our beliefs as Americans is a right we treasure, and it must be protected," she said. "As Catholics, we have a responsibility to witness to the truth and share that with others."
— SueAnn Howell, staff writer. Pictures and video by David Hains, director of communications.
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