WASHINGTON (AP) — An estimated 2,000 Roman Catholics have attended a "Celebration of Freedom" rally in Washington to defend against what they fear is a government violation of their religious rights.
The rally held Sunday at George Washington University is part of a two-week focus on religious liberty organized by U.S. bishops who oppose the administration's requirement that employers provide health insurance that includes birth control.
The pope's ambassador to the U.S., Archbishop Carlo Vigano (VEE'-gah-noh), led prayer asking God to "guard our religious freedom so we may continue to live out our faith." He said Pope Benedict fully supports the Fortnight for Freedom, which continues through the Fourth of July.
Outside the arena, about a dozen Catholic gay rights advocates accused the bishops of trying to defeat President Barack Obama.
But inside, Catholics were urged to put aside politics for a prayerful and patriotic celebration of their God-given rights.