3 protesters charged for storming into St. Patrick’s Cathedral during Easter weekend service

Activists disrupt Holy Saturday service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on March 30, 2024.
Activists disrupt Holy Saturday service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City on March 30, 2024. | XR NYC Palestine Solidarity

Three protesters advocating for Palestinian rights and climate action were charged after disrupting a religious service at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City during Easter celebrations, interrupting the Holy Saturday mass.

The demonstrators, associated with the Extinction Rebellion NYC Palestine Solidarity group, entered the cathedral, advancing towards the altar while chanting "Free Palestine" and displaying a banner proclaiming "Silence Equals Death," CBS New York reported.

The protest left many parishioners in shock, leading to the swift removal of the group from the premises. The larger movement, Extinction Rebellion, is known for its global climate justice campaigns.

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In a thread on X, the group stated that the activists disrupted the mass to "demand all faith leaders take immediate and vocal action against genocide and ecocide."

"However, security slammed the activists to the ground, cathedral refuse to pause the service, continuing to stay silent on the humanitarian crisis," the activist group tweeted. 

In a statement shared via a press release, XR NYC Palestine Solidarity member Matthew M. stated that a "United Nations Security Council calling for a ceasefire is a good start," ... "but churches making ceasefire statements is also a part of the solution."

"War, occupation, and industrial pollution are poisoning the soil, air, and water in Gaza and all over the planet, destroying the earth's capacity to sustain life," Gregory Schwedock, an XR NYC Palestine Solidarity activist who participated in the demonstration at the church, added. 

The group's actions were part of a broader series of demonstrations across New York City, including a notable protest at the New York Auto Show, where activists poured oil on an Electric Ford truck to send the message that reliance on electric vehicles is not a sole solution to the ecological crisis.

The Extinction Rebellion's activities that day also included a rally in Times Square to observe "Land Day," commemorating Palestinian land rights. 

The protest at St. Patrick's Cathedral coincided with global demonstrations against the Israel-Hamas conflict, calling for peace in the Middle East.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a statement urging prayer for peace in the region, citing the human toll of the conflict.

"As the Church enters Holy Week and Christ's suffering on the cross and his resurrection are made present to us so vividly, we are connected to the very source of hope," the statement said. "Thousands of innocent people have died in this conflict, and thousands more have been displaced and face tremendous suffering."

The choice of St. Patrick's Cathedral as a protest site was strategic, as it sought to draw attention to the role of religious institutions in advocating for peace. 

The reaction to the protest was mixed, with some online commentators criticizing the demonstrators for their approach, particularly for the timing during an Easter service, a period of profound significance in Christianity.

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