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Arrested for Wearing Rosary Beads

by Christopher A. Ferrara
December 24, 2014

As Pope Francis goes his merry way, trashing "rigid" Catholics almost daily while orchestrating a veritable campaign to accommodate the divorced and "remarried," cohabitating couples, and "gays" in the Church via his "Synod on the Family," it would be useful to consider a recent little-known story from the "real world" that Francis and his progressive coterie profess to "encounter" but which, in fact, they ignore.

Back in October, in the Texas panhandle City of Amarillo, a middle school student, age 14, was body-slammed by a police officer, handcuffed and taken off to a juvenile detention center for wearing Rosary beads while attending a school football game. As the local TV news channel reports: "14-year-old Jacob Herrera... wore a rosary outside of his clothes when officer Corporal Wilson asked him to remove it." The Rosary was a memento of the boy's deceased brother, not a symbol of gang membership as the middle school's dress code apparently presumed.

When Herrera declined to obey the officer's patently illegal order, recounted witness Marivell Chavez, Wilson slammed the boy to the ground and held him down as he yelled "call my mom… I can't breathe." Wilson, Chavez said, "repeatedly slammed the child on the floor."

The Amarillo Police Department's attempt to explain this abuse of police power sounds quite familiar to me, as a pro-life attorney who has often defended peaceful pro-life advocates falsely accused of "resisting arrest" or "interfering with the administration of justice." The Department's press release claimed that this 14-year-old "was fighting with the officer…" What does that mean? Did he assault the officer? Apparently not, for if he had the press release certainly would have said so. By "fighting" the Department evidently means arguing about the officer's unlawful commands.

The press release further claims that the boy "wouldn't comply with the commands, he wouldn't put his arms behind his back. The officer used a couple of different compliance holds to try and get him to put his hands behind his back, he did not deploy his taser, he just tried to get him under control, they rolled around on the ground for several minutes."

That is practically an admission of the use of excessive force to effect an unlawful arrest for a non-existent offense. Herrera had no obligation in the first place to comply with the officer's command to remove his Rosary, as the Supreme Court has made clear in cases involving police attempts to interfere with the peaceful exercise of free speech rights. After the arrest "some parent witnesses and students wore rosaries as a symbol for the release of Jacob Herrera who's being held at the Youth Center of High Plains." Apparently none of them were arrested.

It is said that Pope Francis does not want bishops who are "culture warriors," supposedly "obsessed" with opposing abortion and "gay marriage," but rather are concerned with issues of "social justice" and "respectful dialogue" with non-Catholics. Hence Francis replaced Cardinal George of Chicago with Archbishop Blase Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota. Blasé is a thoroughly modern Novus Ordo prelate who locked Catholics out of their parish church so they could not celebrate the traditional Easter liturgy in Latin at the same time he built a "spiritual center" for the Lakota Indian tribe that will allow members of the tribe "to draw on both Christian and Lakota religious traditions for spiritual healing."

The Church's gradual surrender to the world following Vatican II, and now this Pope's call to avoid the "culture wars" over abortion and "gay marriage," have contributed mightily to a situation in which the same police officers who body-slam children, handcuff them and take them to jail for wearing Rosary beads also stand guard at "clinics" where countless children are murdered in the womb for profit, ready to arrest anyone who "interferes" even slightly with the "exercise of reproductive rights."

Francis recently told the newspaper La Nacion that "God has bestowed on me a healthy dose of unawareness." With all due respect, that is putting it mildly.

As the Vatican remains mute in the face of the steady advance of what Pope Benedict called a "dictatorship of relativism," and the current Pope busies himself with political diplomacy and finding ways to accommodate public sinners in the Church, we can have recourse to the Five First Saturdays devotion Our Lady prescribed at Fatima in order to make reparation for blasphemies committed against the Immaculate Heart of Mary.