More than 4,000 Roman Catholics from around the state gathered in Hartford to protest a bill that would have changed how the Church operates. The protesters wanted their voices heard even though lawmakers had already scrapped the bill.
Adult parishioners and some children were joined by priests and nuns in the hallways of the Legislative Office Building as they waited for a chance to enter an informational hearing that was filled to capacity. Some held up bright red signs, or wore stickers, that read "Religious Freedom."
Kathleen Mangiafico, is a life-long catholic and parishioner of St Catherine of Siena in Simsbury. She said she came to the Capitol to support her faith.
"We answer to God, and even within our institutions, priests and others that act, behave badly, make human mistakes, we will resolve within our own organizations," said Mangiafico. "The government needs to stay out."
The controversy started when Greenwich resident, Tom Gallagher, proposed a bill that would allow parishioners to have more say in church finances. A public hearing on the proposal was scheduled for Wednesday but leaders of the Judiciary Committee cancelled the hearing and tabled the bill after widespread criticism. Opponents of the legislation say government has no right drafting bills that try to change church governance.
Judiciary Committee chair, Senator Andrew MacDonald issued a statement saying it was never his intent to offend anyone of faith. MacDonald said his only goal was to try his best to represent the concerns of his constituents. He said he regretted that in his pursuit of their interests, he failed to appreciate the views of other, equally concerned Catholics.