As Catholics in Columbus, Ohio celebrated a pro-life mass on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision Friday, a small group of pro-abortion rights protesters stormed the ceremony.
St. Joseph Cathedral in Columbus, Ohio, the state's capital and largest city, celebrated a Respect Life mass on Friday, marking the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Video footage obtained by The Columbus Dispatch showed police and security officers working to remove a group of about eight protesters who disrupted the mass to demonstrate in support of abortion rights.
While worshipers gathered to commemorate the millions of unborn lives lost to abortion over the years, protesters marched around the sanctuary and chanted "two, four, six, eight, this church teaches hate.”
They held signs with messages such as "Abortion on demand, end Hyde now" as well as "Fund abortion, not clinic harassment.”
According to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cleveland, whose bishop attended the mass, approximately 200 people were in attendance for the 10:30 a.m. service.
After being removed from the building, the protesters shouted obscenities at the law enforcement officials. One demonstrator remarked that "If hell was real, you would burn in it.” Meanwhile, another shouted, "Jesus hates you!"
The Columbus Dispatch reported that Columbus Police did not offer any details about possible arrests on Saturday.
Following the protest, Bishop Robert Brennan of the Diocese of Columbus, who celebrated the Respect Life mass, issued a statement thanking the Columbus Police and diocesan staff for "the quick response without injury to anyone present."
He also praised those who attended the mass for their "respectful and prayerful response" that "reflects the joy, hope, and mercy that marks our pro-life witness."
"I also apologize to the families present whose children were exposed to this,” the bishop said. “On this day, in remembrance of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision, I ask all to continue to pray for the unborn who died, for all those who have experienced the pain of abortion, and for those who cannot understand our divine and steadfast calling to champion this cause.”
After the mass concluded, about 150 people traveled to the nearby Ohio Statehouse for the annual Roe Remembrance Rally. Cleveland's Bishop Edward Malesic addressed the crowd and weighed in on the "display of violence" that took place earlier in the day.
"There is hatred on this side of the fence," Malesic said. "We won't win this argument [against those supporting abortion rights] by yelling. We will win this argument by the strength of it."
The Catholic Church is one of the most outspoken institutional critics of legalized abortion in the country.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes "every procured abortion" as an act of "moral evil."
Top leaders in the Church have criticized President Joe Biden, the second Catholic in U.S. history to hold the highest office in the land, after he issued a statement committing to ensure that all Americans have access to "reproductive healthcare" and expressed support for the codification of Roe v. Wade into federal law.
"We strongly urge the president to reject abortion and promote life-affirming aid to women and communities in need," said Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City, Kansas, the head of the U.S. Bishops' Committee on Pro-Life Activities. "It is deeply disturbing and tragic that any president would praise and commit to codifying a Supreme Court ruling that denies unborn children their most basic human and civil right, the right to life under the euphemistic disguise of a health service."
Biden's support for abortion rights led one Catholic priest in South Carolina to deny him communion as he campaigned in the state ahead of the 2020 presidential election. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, another Catholic who supports abortion rights, has also come under fire from Catholic leaders for suggesting that pro-life voters, including Catholics, were "willing to sell the whole democracy down the river for that one issue" by supporting the pro-life former President Donald Trump.
Additionally, Pelosi complained that the fact that so many religious Americans prioritize the issue of abortion "gives me grief as a Catholic." Salvatore Cordileone, who serves as archbishop of San Francisco, the city Pelosi represents in Congress, slammed the speaker for speaking "in direct contradiction to a fundamental human right that Catholic teaching has consistently championed for 2,000 years" and stressed that she did not speak for the Catholic Church.