Gov. Neil Abercrombie, attending his first Catholic Red Mass yesterday among more than 25 public servants, said he intends to consider a diversity of viewpoints, regardless of religious motivation, if they benefit the common good.
His comments were made in response to an address by keynote speaker Anthony R. Picarello Jr., general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, D.C. Some 300 attended the 9 a.m. Mass at the Cathedral of Our Lady of Peace in downtown Hono-lulu.
Red Mass, named for the color of the bishops’ vestments or robes, is the Catholic church’s prayer for wisdom and guidance for lawmakers, usually held in January when the state Legislature convenes, said Roman Catholic Diocese of Honolulu spokesman Patrick Downes.
Picarello, named to The American Lawyer magazine’s list of the top 50 litigators under age 45 in 2007, warned, "The threat we will face is that of an increasingly aggressive secularism" that would "deny religion any role in public life."
Picarello said he joins with Honolulu Bishop Larry Silva in sharing the need for vigilantly protecting religious freedom for all. He said the freedom of every individual to search for truth contrasts with "the extreme and emerging secularist view of freedom without truth — an empty freedom for its own sake with no purpose or boundaries."
He cited a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, which denied the request by a local society branch to be a registered student organization because it required members to vow support of the society’s Christian message.