By Kathleen Gilbert
BALTIMORE, September 18, 2008 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Two members of the pro-life organization Operation Rescue were arrested Monday for passing out pamphlets on Church property reminding Catholics of their moral obligation to vote pro-life.
Joseph Landry, 27, and Brian Sherwood, 35, were taken into police custody from the Basilica of the Assumption in Baltimore, where they had been peacefully distributing literature that condemned the pro-abortion agenda of Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama. Sherwood was later released on his own recognizance, while Landry remains in prison under $10,000 bail.
The basilica’s pastor, Father Jeffrey Dauses, explained that the men warranted arrest because their literature was “patently partisan,” and focused “on individual candidates, rather than issues.” The Archdiocesan bishop also said in a statement that “the distribution of materials that encourages Catholics to vote for one candidate over another is a violation of the guidelines governing all non-profit organizations, including churches.” Sean Cain, speaking on behalf of the Archdiocese, said the pamphlets were problematic because there was “too much of a grey area” to argue that they were not advertising a political party.
But the protesters argue that they were not endorsing any political party or candidate and they intended only to point out the moral obligation upon all Catholics not to vote for clearly pro-abortion candidates like Sen. Obama.
(see the pamphlet here: https://www.ahumbleplea.com/Docs/StopObama.pdf)
“I am shocked that we – as devout Catholics – are being arrested at a Catholic church for handing out Catholic literature,” said Landry. “If the bishops don’t have to courage to tell their flock that it is immoral to vote for a child-killer like Obama, then the faithful will.”
According to Operation Rescue, Mr. Landry and Andrea Terry had been arrested in January of this year in St. Petersburg, Florida, on similar grounds.
Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, stated: “It is an outrage that Joseph is sitting in jail with a $10,000 bond. We are asking faithful Catholics across the nation to call Archbishop O’Brien and his staff at 410-547-5437 and 410-547- 5379 to demand that the charges against these men be dropped, and that Mr. Landry be released from jail immediately.
“There will be many more faithful Catholics handing out pro-life literature at Cathedrals across the nation that upholds the teaching of the ‘gospel of life.’ Will we see more Bishops arresting the faithful for upholding church teaching?”
Earlier this month, Terry urged Catholic bishops in a statement at St. Paul’s Cathedral in Minnesota not to arrest Catholics distributing pro-life literature on Church property. Terry quoted the authoritative words of Pope John Paul II, who proclaimed that all involved with the evil of abortion are excommunicated, including “those accomplices without whose help the crime would not have been committed.”
Terry then stated that “a devout and courageous group of us will uphold the teachings of the Church, and cry out against cooperation with the Obama/Biden ticket,” and plead bishops not to “put yourself in the unhappy and unholy place of harassing or unjustly arresting faithful Catholics heralding the Gospel of Life.”